SA govt criticises Australia's response to land debate

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton believes the farmers deserve'special attention and need help from a'civilised country like Australia

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton suggested on Wednesday that he was considering offer white South African farmers visas on humanitarian grounds.

"If you look at the footage and read the stories, you hear the accounts, it's a horrific circumstance they face", Dutton said.

"The people we're talking about want to work hard, they want to contribute to a country like Australia", he said. "And I think these people deserve special attention and we're certainly applying that special attention now". Under the current system, a refugee would first need to be referred by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to the Australian government.

"People do need help and they need help from a civilised country like ours", Mr Dutton told News Corp.

His comments come just months after asylum-seekers and refugees held in a remote Pacific camp were awarded Aus$70 million ($56 million) for being illegally detained and treated negligently in Australia's largest human rights class action settlement.

Asked if this could be achieved with the South African government's cooperation, Dutton replied Australia "can work with governments all around the world".

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Alana Bailey, deputy chief executive of AfriForum responsible for global liaison, said Dutton clearly takes in a "serious light" issues such as the high occurrence of farm attacks, crime statistics and the government's steps to make expropriation without compensation possible, while the South African government "simply ignores or shrugs these off as unfounded fears".

Mabaya said the South African government was clear that the matter was before Parliament for it to engage on it.

"That threat does not exist", the South African foreign ministry in Pretoria told Reuters.

The South African parliament recently passed a motion which may lead to white farmers having their land seized and given to black owners without compensation. Recent reports by both the BBC and Africa Check concluded that it is nearly impossible to determine the murder rate on South African farms because the data is too unreliable.

According to Alana Bailey, Deputy CEO of AfriForum responsible for worldwide liaison, the Australian Minister clearly takes in a serious light issues such as the high occurrence of farm attacks, crime statistics and the government's steps to make expropriation without compensation possible, while the South African government simply ignores or shrugs these off as unfounded fears.

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