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Racial Tensions Flare Up Again in South Africa

A young white farm manager was found earlier this month strangled and tied to a pole on a farm in the eastern part of the Free State province, police said. Two Black men were accused of the murder. At a packed court hearing on Friday, the police captain investigating the case said that the suspects were part of a ring of livestock thieves operating in the area, and that it appeared that the motive was robbery rather than racial animus. But the killing of the farm manager, Brendin Horner, has become the latest flash point for racial conflict in South Africa, where the segregationist apartheid regime fell almost 30 years ago. Tension is particularly high in rural farming areas where white people still own a vast majority of the farms and Black people still serve as their often impoverished laborers. Groups representing white farmers accuse the South African government of deliberately failing to protect them. Some white activist groups say that what they call “farm murders” represent the beginning of a “white genocide” aimed at driving whites out of South Africa. Critics see this as a deeply distorted narrative promoted by the white beneficiaries of apartheid to drum up international sympathy. They point out that violent crime is common in South Africa. The vast majority of the victims are Black.