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Last Updated: Friday, 1 July 2005, 15:29 GMT 16:29 UK
Blood and Land
White farmers in South Africa still own 75% of the country. And more than 1,500 of them have been murdered in the past decade.

White farmer Louis Meintjies
Blood and Land
Tuesday, 5 July, 2005
2100 BST on BBC Two

Louis Meintjies runs the operational centre of his local farmers' self-defence unit.

He, like many others, is in constant fear of his life, but is determined not to be forced from his land. "I love this land just as much as anybody else," he says. "They won't kick me off... we will fight."

But the battle is daunting, and law enforcement is scarce.

Many farmers have turned to their local Commando for help, a paramilitary unit that dates back to the Boer war.

This World's team also meets Captain Manie van Zyl, head of the Serious Violent Crimes Unit, an under-resourced corps of eight men charged with investigating farm attacks, in a part of South Africa where the struggle over land has already begun to resemble a bloody war.

Bearing witness to such crimes against fellow whites drove Captain van Zyl to a nervous breakdown.

"I couldn't take anymore," he says. "Seeing day and night every day, the brutal killings."

Sins of apartheid

Payete Ndlovana, walking beside an electric fence
Land claimant Payete Ndlovana can only visit graves of his ancestors through an electrified corridor

Payete Ndlovana's land was taken from his family under apartheid in 1973. Payete was thrown in jail and his land was sold to a white farmer.

When the ANC government came to power over a decade ago, Payete lodged a claim to get his land back, but since then, the land commission has done nothing for him.

"When we voted in 1994, we thought the situation would mean that we and the farmers were going to share 50/50," he says.

Against this background of increased land hunger and frustration with the pace of land reform, some see the killings as a straightforward Zimbabwe-style bid to intimidate whites off their farms.

But black farmers are coming under attack now too, so what does this mean?

Are these farm attacks really a campaign to drive whites off the land, or are they a symptom of the country's persistent crime wave?

Blood and Land follows Louis Meintjies, Captain van Zyl and Payete Ndlovana over a bloody fortnight.

Blood and Land was broadcast in the UK on Tuesday, 5 July, 2005, at 2100 BST on BBC Two.

Producer/director: Clifford Bestall for Films of Record
Executive producer: Karen O'Connor

South Africa's bloody battle for land
04 Jul 05 |  This World
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04 Jul 05 |  This World

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