A throng of protesters marched through Brisbane's Central Business District (CBD) to Queensland Parliament in Australia on Sunday, supporting calls to have white South African farmers given special refugee status on the continent down under.
News.com.au reported that the march was organised by the Brisbane South African community with crowds chanting “thank you, Australia” and “thank you, Mr Dutton” as they marched through the CBD.
“We appreciate the Australian government’s recognition of the plight of farmers in South Africa,” said Roz Potgieter, who has been campaigning to bring her two adult children to Australia.
“Violent crime is rampant in South Africa and affects all of its communities, [but] the attacks on farmers are particularly brutal," she told the news website.
In her view, farm murders in South Africa are racially oriented, with white farmers in particular facing persecution.
An Australian Senator, Fraser Anning, tweeted that there was a "fantastic turnout" for the march, which he described was to "stop genocide against white South Africans".
He said thousands attended the march.
The demonstration comes after comments by Australia's Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton recently, where he said he would be looking into expediting a special visa for South African farmers.
"I think these people deserve special attention and we're certainly applying that special attention now," he said.
His remarks came hot on the heels of the National Assembly decision to set into motion a process to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation.
The motion was brought by EFF leader Julius Malema. It was amended by the ANC and was adopted with 241 voting in favour and 83 who voted against.
As a result, the matter will now be referred to the Constitutional Review Committee which must report back to Parliament by August 30.
Dutton's comments led to a diplomatic spat between South Africa and Australia as International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu issued a diplomatic demarche – or course of action – to the Australian High Commissioner in South Africa, Adam McCarthy, to demand a retraction of the comments by Dutton.
Sisulu also urged the international community not to panic over Parliament's decision.
She had "noted a number of international organisations and individuals commenting on the parliamentary processes in South Africa in relation to land distribution".
"There is no need to panic or be alarmist. The president [Cyril Ramaphosa] has already said in Parliament and in a number of public platforms whilst addressing various stakeholders that there is no need to panic," said Sisulu.
She said Ramaphosa had stressed that the matter was "being handled properly for the benefit of all South Africans".
Another Australian politician, Andrew Laming, federal member for Bowman, has come out in support of Dutton, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
He is quoted as criticising the South African government, for lacking "political will".
"We need a South African government that starts counting the toll, we need a South African government that doesn't paper over reality," said Laming.
The news site reports that Laming accepted a letter - to be passed on to the federal government - from demonstrators who marched to Queensland Parliament.
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