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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 September, 2003, 03:52 GMT 04:52 UK
South Africa's violent farms
South African farmer builds a security fence
The commission says crime is a motive for attacks against whites
South Africa's Human Rights Commission has published a two-year study into the country's farms, revealing grim conditions for black labourers as well as an increase in murders of white farmers.

The report condemns a culture of violence against black workers, compounded by high levels of alcoholism and poor education.

And it documents 1,500 murders of white farmers since the end of apartheid a decade ago.

The commission puts the blame at the door of slow progress in the government's land reform programme and the gaping inequalities which continue to exist between the black and white rural communities.

The commission says the primary motive for the increased violence against whites is crime, but farmers are concerned that racism is also a factor.

The BBC's Hilary Andersson in Johannesburg says white farmers now appear to be one of the most vulnerable groups.

It is now, she says, much more dangerous to be a white farmer in South Africa than in neighbouring Zimbabwe, where political violence and government policy has driven many white farmers off their land.

The vast majority of South African land is still in white hands and many black labourers live in appalling poverty.

'Environment of impunity'

The commission's report says that land owners operate outside the labour laws and child labour still occurs.

"In some provinces.... the incidences [of assault] are of such a nature and frequency as to indicate that there is a culture of violence in which acts are perpetrated in an environment of impunity," the report says.

Commissioner Charlotte McClain-Nhalpo said the marginalisation of farming communities was a problem.

"There is an acute lack of awareness of human rights, a lack of knowledge of the legislation, and a lack of access to justice," she said.

Farming in the new South Africa
18 Jun 02  |  Africa
Country profile: South Africa
11 Aug 03  |  Country profiles

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