(Deliberately written in English)

This is Willemien Potgieter. On this day, exactly five years ago, she, together with her father and mother were attacked on their farm near Lindley in the Free State. Attie Potgieter was stabbed 151 with a garden fork and other gardening equipment while his wife, Wilma and little Willemien had to witness. His body was left with the fork still in his throat. Thereafter, Willemien (2), who was standing next to his body, her little feet covered in her father’s blood, was picked up and carried to the storeroom. There she was shot in the head and thrown in a box. Wilna, having witnessed the murders on her husband and her little girl, was then dragged into the house and “executed” with a gunshot to the neck. I am sure that by that time, she was praying to be murdered as well.
On that day, immediately after the murders were committed, even before anyone had known, I remember participating in a debate about imperialism. I made the statement that it is senseless to discuss issues such as imperialism in other African countries, while we have much bigger problems to deal with, such as the senseless murders committed against our food providers. A representative of the ANCYL, now a member of parliament for the EFF, responded, saying that we should not be talking about farm murders. Instead, she said, we need to ask ourselves: What are they doing on those farms in the first place?

I remember seeing this picture on the newspaper two days later and how much pain and sorrow I felt simply by reading this story, even though I didn’t have children at the time. I remember attending the court proceedings of the people who were eventually found guilty of these attacks. I remember how they mocked the crowd of horrified family members from the back of the police van. But most importantly, I remember how the South African government, and the ruling ANC responded to the news. Both the Police and the ANC had lashed out against farm murders, stating that it had gone too far and that something had to be done to stop this scourge of violence.
Here we are today. Five years have passed, since then hundreds of farmers have been murdered – many of them tortured in the most inhumane ways imaginable. But from within the ranks of the South African government, absolutely nothing has been done.
That is why we cannot simply sit back and wait for the South African government to stop this scourge. They will not, because they don’t care. We don’t need to take the law into our own hands, but we do need to do more to look after our own safety and the safety of our communities. On the other hand, we need to do more to inform the international community about the reality of farm murders in South Africa. If we need to create international embarrassment for the South African government as a result of their no-care attitude, then so be it.

Willemien would have finished grade two by now. She would have been old enough to ride a bicycle on her own and to have sleepovers with her friends. In a normal country, she would have been old enough to play outside on her own. She probably would have had a baby brother or sister and I am convinced that she would have been filled with joy and excitement about the fact that Christmas is right around the corner.
But this was not to be. Perhaps we can still honor her memory by remembering her name, by looking after ourselves and by stepping up the fight to have farm murders declared and treated as a priority crime in South Africa.”

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