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When US President Donald Trump pledged to investigate large-scale killings of white farmers in SA and violent takeovers of land, Pretoria said he was misinformed. Elsewhere, there was quiet satisfaction. For activist group AfriForum, Trump’s intervention, following a Fox News show criticising the land-reform plans of the ANC, signalled a job well done. “The best possible outcome that we hoped for was for a statement by the president of the USA, which we got,” said AfriForum deputy CEO Ernst Roets. The walls in his Pretoria office display photographs of street protests by AfriForum, stepped up in 2018 against land distribution plans and what it calls the targeted killing of white farmers.

Of 20,000 murders in the last recorded year, 46 were white people killed on farms, according to police data. No land has been seized and the vast majority of victims are poor and black. Ramaphosa’s vague pledge in 2018 to pursue land expropriation without compensation to right the wrongs of ap...

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