Talks with AWB fruitful - Mthethwa
Pretoria - The police take an impartial approach to farm safety and will not be affected by politicians' attempts to polarise the issue, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said on Monday.
Mthethwa was speaking after "fruitful" talks with newly-appointed Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) leader Steyn van Ronge in Pretoria.
The AWB had asked for the meeting to voice its concern about farm murders and to find out how the government planned to deal with the matter.
Former AWB leader Eugene Terre'Blanche was murdered at his farm outside Ventersdorp over the Easter weekend.
Terre'Blanche 'character assassination'
During Monday's meeting, Van Ronge accused the media of "character assassination" and said this was unfair, because Terre'Blanche was not there to defend himself.
He also accused politicians of making "defamatory" statements about Terre'Blanche.
Terre'Blanche's supporters have been infuriated at reports that a used condom was found at the murder scene, and that one of his alleged killers claimed to have been sodomised by Terre'Blanche.
Police have denied the claims, but have confirmed that semen was found on Terre'Blanche's body. The crime was reportedly committed over a wage dispute.
Mthethwa advised the AWB to engage with the SA National Editors' Forum about the media reports.
He assured the AWB that rural safety was one of the government's top priorities, and indicated that there needed to be more meetings with the AWB. "We cannot understand each other's issues from a distance," he said.
Agri-SA and the police would embark on a roadshow within the rural community in May, not only to create an awareness of farm killings, but to put in place effective measures to deal with them.
"We need to ensure production at farms continues unhindered. We cannot allow crime to be a deterrent," said Mthethwa.
Van Ronge said the AWB would promote mutual co-operation and respect with the ministry by getting involved in crime fighting initiatives on farms and in urban areas.