Land Rights: Prepping White Farmers

A South African police chief.
Men surveying agricultural land.

As explained in the previous chapter, many South Africans think that land redistribution to non-whites is going much too slowly. Reflecting this sentiment, cliques of disaffected people impatient for solutions now threaten to take the law into their own hands if their land-related grievances are not speedily redressed.

Related to the threat of taking the law into their own hands, frustrated non-whites have already unlawfully taken possession of land in certain areas. Well-established farmers and farm workers, furthermore, quite frequently get robbed and murdered by aggressive criminal gangs, who see the farmers as easy or legitimate targets of violence. Primarily white but also non-white rural dwellers, for this reason, complain that the police and the government are doing too little to stop people from attacking them and taking their farms.

Learning how to use firearms

In the midst of what they see as a great crisis motivated by antipathy against whites, many white farmers have promised to support each other and not give in to extortion and violence. As a part of this commitment and for fear that the violence against them is only going to escalate, they are now implementing defense strategies and learning how to use firearms on a broad scale. The preppingcommunity of white farmers — who is part of the racial group that still owns most of the agricultural land in South Africa — don’t see how it is morally right for other people to try to take the land on which they and their families have lived for generations.

Expropriation without compensation

Up until 2018, the government largely agreed with the white farmers’ opinion that farms should not be expropriated without the owners’ consent. Land redistribution, the government said, should follow a willing-buyer-willing-seller principle, making land transfers a matter of negotiation rather than coercion. To date, however, South Africa has transferred much less land from whites to non-whites than the authorities intended, leading the ANC government to change its policy and now support expropriation of white-owned farms without compensation — although they still advocate non-violence. This drastic change in policy position, as explained in the next chapter, raises many questions about the future of South Africa.