Australia considers fast-track visas for white South African farmers


Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says Canberra is considering fast-tracking visas for white farmers so they can flee their "horrific circumstances". "There is no reason for any government in the world to suspect that a section of South Africans is under danger from their own democratically elected government".

The policy has led to reports, including in the Australian media, that white farmers are being murdered at a rate of more than one per week.

Such is the level of violence in South Africa that thousands of mainly white, Afrikaans-speaking farmers have taken to the streets to protest and plead for help.

"Further he also seemingly admits that the concern of white South Africans is just as valid as that of any other citizen, while the South African authorities are only too glad to hold the community as scapegoats for problems in the country and treat them as second class citizens", says Bailey.

"If you look at the footage, you hear the stories and you read the accounts, it's a horrific circumstance that they face", he told Sydney's Daily Telegraph late Wednesday.

"We regret that the Australian government chose not to use the available diplomatic channels available for them to raise concerns or to seek clarification", it added. "And I think these people deserve special attention and we're certainly applying that special attention now".

Australia's home affairs page states a total of 13,765 visas were granted under the annual Humanitarian Program from 2015 to 2016.

It is not clear whether Dutton was referring to farm-murder statistics, or the South African government's recent undertaking to explore land expropriation without compensation.

Afriforum chief executive Kallie Kriel applauded Dutton for highlighting the issue but said his organisation was not advocating mass emigration.

He indicated that those wanting to leave may be able apply under an "in-country persecution" visa category, or through a refugee-humanitarian programme.

South Africa's ruling ANC party is planning new laws that will allow the government to redistribute farmland without paying compensation, in an escalated push to give black South Africans more access to the land.

Speaking to parliament on Tuesday, Ramaphosa said South Africa was not heading down the road towards the type of violent and chaotic seizure of white-owned farms that triggered economic collapse in Zimbabwe almost 20 years ago.

The government has been buying back land from white farmers for years but has been frustrated by slow progress in increasing the percentage of black ownership.

He said the home affairs department was looking at ways to help "some of these horrific cases" and suggested an announcement could be made shortly.