Australia’s former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has backed a proposal by the country’s home affairs minister to look into fast-tracking visas for white South African farmers who he said are “persecuted”.
Mr Abbott told Australia’s 2GB Radio that the situation in South Africa was serious and that “something like 400 white farmers have been murdered – brutally murdered over the last 12 months”.
The number has however been disputed by Gareth Newham at the Institute for Security Studies, one of South Africa’s leading authorities on crime statistics, the UK Guardian reports.
Mr Newham said that there was no evidence to support the claim.
He added that in fact “young black males living in poor urban areas… face a far greater risk of being murdered. The murder rate there is between 200 and 300 murders per 100,000 people.”
“Even the highest estimates of farm murders stand at 133 per 100,000 people, and that includes both black and white murder victims.”
The issue of land ownership in South Africa has been an increasingly fraught topic. Almost 75% of its farmland is still in white hands more than two decades after the governing ANC first won power from the white minority government.
White South Africans make up less than 10% of the overall population.
The land expropriation without compensation motion, which was brought forward by the radical left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party, seeks to change the constitution to allow it.
Government spokesman Ndivhuwo Mabaya told the BBC last week there was no reason for any country in the world to suspect a section of the South African population was in danger from its democratically elected leaders, adding:
“We remain a united nation here in South Africa – both black and white.”