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What happened in Senekal?

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Senekal is a town in the Free State province which become political ground after the violent protest action highlighting the spate of farm murders in the country.

Senekal, a town in the Free State province, was fairly unknown to the general public before 2020. The town came under the spotlight after becoming what can be best described as the political playground of the entrenched racial divide between political parties.

The farming town made headlines after the killing of young farmer manager, Brendin Horner. Black South Africans were allegedly behind his murder, and are still on trial. Frustrated with the continued attacks, the community members wanted to take matters into their own hands when the suspects first appeared at the Senekal Magistrate’s Court in early October 2020. When the community members were reportedly prevented access to the murder accused, they are believed to have retaliated by vandalising the court and the police vehicles on the grounds.

The community’s actions were documented and circulated on social media, however, what stood out for some was the supposed lack of intervention by the South African Police Service (SAPS) throughout the violent protest action. The response was compared to how the police service acted in past protests, which were predominantly fronted by Black citizens. Social media users were quick to highlight the alleged bias of the matter, prompting intervention from the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

The EFF strongly opposed the community’s actions, and claimed that they had collectively infringed on the constitutional right of the accused to face the full brunt of the law. The party then vowed to be present at the following court appearance. Other political parties, such as AfriForum and the Democratic Alliance (DA), then rallied behind the Senekal community and explained that their behaviour was due to frustration over the continued farm murders. They then committed to also being present at the following court appearance to ensure that the EFF does not incite violence.

When the subsequent court date came, the EFF fulfilled its promise to attend, so did the aforementioned political parties. Despite the high tension and threat of a violent outbreak, the day went on without any major incidences.

Sabelo Makhubo
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