The suspects in the murder case of a white farmer in South Africa that last year triggered riots and stoked weeks of racial tensions were acquitted on Friday, local media reported.
The killing of Brendin Horner, whose body was found tied to a pole at his farm in Free State province, led to riots in October last year. These were followed by a stand-off between white protesters and Black counter-protesters from the Marxist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) in Senekal, a central South African town near where the murder took place.
Sekola Matlaletsa and Sekwetje Mahlamba were acquitted of murder, robbery and theft, after Judge Cagney Musi declared there was insufficient evidence linking them to the attack.
Murders on farms, the vast majority of which are white- owned, are a volatile issue in South Africa, where some white minority activist groups promote the idea that they are victims of a “white genocide”, even though white farmers make up a tiny fraction of the total murder victims in South Africa.
Next month, the government is preparing to discuss a long-awaited bill to expropriate white-owned land without compensation, as part of an effort to redress economic inequalities that remain stark 27 years after the end of white minority rule. The bill has become a flashpoint for the racial tensions that were highlighted by Horner’s murder.