When armed men broke into their farm in Free State province on Wednesday night, Mark Regal and his wife were already on high alx.


Just the day before, their neighbour and fellow farmer Eddie Hills had died in hospital, a week after being stabbed in a robbery in which his father was tied up and shot.


The spate of killings has inflamed racial tensions in South Africa, with the Free State's white farming community accusing the ANC-ruled government of doing little to help.


Trouble first flared with last month's grisly murder of farm mechanic, Brendin Horner, 21, whose body was found tied by a noose to a fence near his cottage. When two suspects appeared in court a week later in the tiny town of Senekal, a white mob stormed the building,attempting to avenge Mr Horner's death on the spot.

上个月,21岁的农场机械师布伦丁-霍纳(Brendin Horner)惨遭杀害,他的尸体被发现用绳索绑在他的小屋附近的栅栏上,灾难首次爆发。一周后,当两名嫌疑人出现在塞内卡尔(Senekal)小镇的法庭上时,一群白人暴徒冲进大楼,试图为霍纳先生的死亡当场复仇。

At a following hearing, the protesters – some wearing "Boer Lives Matter" T-shirts – also faced off against the Economic Freedom Fighters, a black political party led by the radical politician Julius Malema.

在随后的听证会上,抗议者——一些人穿着 "布尔人的命也是命 "的T恤衫——还与激进政治家朱利叶斯-马莱马(Julius Malema)领导的黑人政党 "经济自由战士 "对峙。

Such killings are fuelling a steady exodus of whites from the farming sector, prompting fears that it could go the same way as Zimbabwe's under Robert Mugabe. Here, the problem may be crime rather than state-backed farm invasions, but with around fifty farmers murdered every year, the effect is similar.

这种杀戮正在助长白人从农业部门不断外流,促使人们担心它可能会像罗伯特-穆加贝(Robert Mugabe)统治下的津巴布韦一样。在这里,问题虽然是犯罪,而不是国家支持的农场入侵,但每年约有50名农民被谋杀,效果是相似的。

"Many young farmers are leaving the country to continue their love of farming elsewhere, which will have an impact on food security in the future."


The crime problem is particularly acute in the Free State, a balmy plateau long known as South Africa's breadbasket. It is a stronghold of white Afrikaners, who founded it as the Orange Free State before defeat by British forces during the Boer Wars.


One suspect in the Horner case, for example, has been arrested 16 previous times for stock theft. A few local police are alleged to be involved too.


Farmsteads have guard dogs and CCTV, while some farming groups even have drones with number plate and facial recognition technology, which can track fleeing stock thieves.


Mr Wilken, whose own father was murdered 17 years ago, fears that racial hatred plays a part in the killings. Some victims, he points out, are found tortured and mutilated. Yet at the same time, Free State farmers believe they are caricatured by outdated stereotypes, which often paints them as racist throwbacks.


While many white settler communities in Africa never master local tongues, most Free State farmers are fluent in the local language, Sesotho. They also claim to do their best to protect local black farmers, who are included in community safety associations.


Many black farmers have only been in business since post-apartheid land reform programs, and struggle because of lack of credit access. But they still fall victim to robbers.


On Tuesday, for example, Free State cattle farmer Teboho Machakela, who described himself on Facebook as an "innovative and ambitious Young Black Farmer”, died after being shot by robbers the month before.

例如,周二,自由州牛农Teboho Machakela在脸书上自称是 "创新和雄心勃勃的年轻黑人农民",在一个月前被劫匪枪杀后死亡。

Indeed, when South Africa's police minister, Bheki Cele, met with Free State farmers to discuss their concerns on Thursday, black attendees accused his government of only acting when white farmers died.

事实上,当南非警察部长Bheki Cele周四与自由州农民进行会面来讨论他们的困扰时,黑人与会者指责政府只在白人农民死亡时才采取行动。

“When one just one person dies here, (Brendin Horner) the whole world stops," complained Pitso Sekgotho, a black farmer who has had 50 cattle stolen. “Meanwhile, we are struggling every day with criminality."

"当这里只有一个人死亡时(布伦丁-霍纳),整个世界都停止了,"Pitso Sekgotho抱怨说,他是一个黑人农民,他的50头牛被盗。"与此同时,我们每天都在与犯罪行为作斗争。"

Last year, 49 farmers were murdered across South Africa, most of them white. While the figures have been worse (between 1997 and 2002, when there were many more white farmers, the annual toll was above 140) South Africa's reformist president Cyril Ramaphosa, who came to power two years ago, does not want more farmers to quit.

去年,南非各地有49名农民被谋杀,其中大部分是白人。虽然下面这个数字更糟糕(1997年到2002年之间,白人农民更多,但每年的伤亡人数在140人以上),但两年前上台的南非改革派总统西里尔-拉马福萨(Cyril Ramaphosa)并不希望更多农民退出。

Not only does agriculture make up four per cent of South Africa's economy, it employs 700,000 people.


"The brutal killing of a young white farmer, allegedly by black men, followed by the spectacle of white farmers storming a police station to get to a black suspect has opened up wounds that go back many generations," he said.
Both communities, he added, had to "challenge racial attitudes that prevent a united response."

他补充说,所有社区都必须 "挑战那些阻碍民族联合的种族态度"。

“Farming in the Free State feels like war, a full-scale war," said Jess de Klerk, chairman of the Senekal Safety Association. "We have weapons with us all the time these days."

"自由州的农业感觉就像战争,一场全面的战争,"Senekal安全协会主席Jess de Klerk说。"这些天我们一直带着武器。"