South Africa: Inaccurate Reporting Damages Farmers’ Image

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Pretoria, South Africa, January 11, 2018/ — Inaccurate reporting to the media by the Gauteng and Tarlton police regarding the tragic shooting death of a farm worker in the Krugersdorp area has tarnished the image of farmers.

 Initial reports alleged that a farmer had shot and killed a tractor driver who had stolen a tractor. Later reports confirmed, however, that a security officer had been responsible for the shooting of the farm worker.

“False reporting on the incident and poor journalism resulted in farmers’ reputation and public image being tarnished. The unnecessary dissemination of images relating to the incident had a negative effect on the dignity of the victim. This, and the false reporting, is unacceptable,”  Agri SA President Dan Kriek said.

Agri SA wished to extend its condolences to the family of the murdered farm worker and reiterate that farm workers form an important part of agriculture and, together with farmers, are responsible for providing the people of the country with food.

The Human Rights Commission, in its 2014 inquiry into security challenges in the farming community, found that the good relationship between farmers and farm workers was not emphasised enough and that negative stereotyping of relationships on farmers should be halted. The wrong information around the Tarlton incident does not help to promote relationships within rural communities.

Since the shooting of the farm worker on Saturday morning, the media has disseminated the information widely, also on social media, where reference was made to “black people being killed by white farmers” and allegations that the incident was racially motivated. This type of information results in the polarisation of communities and is not conducive to nation-building.

“Today I call on the media and other stakeholders to ensure that information regarding farmers is reported correctly and that the farming community is not unnecessarily condemned for actions in which they had no part,” said Kriek.

Statements such as those regarding the Tarlton incident and the reference to farmers as the guilty party are usually accompanied by emotions and incorrect perceptions about farmers on the part of society at large. “The police and the media have an enormous responsibility to ensure that crime-related incidents and the identity of the guilty parties are correctly reported,” said Kriek in closing.

African Eye Report

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