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Normandien farmers doubt Cele visit will help ease racial tensions in area

Police Minister Bheki Cele had convened the meeting to ease tensions between community members following the killing of a prominent local farming couple last month.

Police Minister Bheki Cele (seated right), along with the national police's top management, listens to farmers and workers during a visit to the Normandien area in KwaZulu-Natal on 21 September 2020. Picture: @SAPoliceService/Twitter

DURBAN - Farmers in Normandien in northern KwaZulu-Natal said that they were doubtful that Police Minister Bheki Cele’s visit to the area on Monday would assist in easing racial tensions in the area.

This comes after a heated community meeting where farmers were mainly accused of racism and violence while farm dwellers and workers were alleged to have stolen livestock and overgrazed in properties belonging to farmers.

Cele had convened the meeting to ease tensions between community members following the killing of a prominent local farming couple last month.

However, he left many farmers feeling aggrieved after publicly criticising Normandien Farmers Association chairperson, Ronald Collier.

After several farm dwellers spoke about alleged abuse at the hands of farmers, Collier denounced the claims and asked Cele if he would remain quiet if his property was stolen.

The minister took issue with the question and accused Collier of arrogance, to the delight of local farm dwellers.

Darrel Brown, a local farmer, said that the incident was unfortunate.

"The fact that the minister had some harsh words for the chairman, I think, put a different spin on the meeting and I think, if anything, that supports driving racial tensions because Mr Collier works very well with the community and it's just a great pity that he was taken to task in the manner in which he was."

There is consensus among community members that policing is poor in the area.

Cele said that an inspectorate team within the police had been deployed to study communal issues and produce a report in the next 14 days.

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