Australia considering fast-track visa program for white South African farmers

A bumper sign during a blockade of the freeway between Johannesburg and Vereeniging in Midvaal South Africa in protest against the recent murder of farmers Monday Oct 30 2017. Traffic was bought to a standstill on highways leading from farming areas

Australia Examining Fast Track Visas for Threatened South African Farmers AP Themba Hadebe by Simon Kent14 Mar 20180 14 Mar 2018 14 Mar 2018

After South Africa disregarded allegations about white farmers facing violence in the country, an Australian minister is looking into the possibility of giving farmers access to fast-track visas.

Peter Dutton, Australia's home affairs minister, told the Sydney Daily Telegraph on Wednesday his department was examining a range of methods to smooth their path to Australia on humanitarian or other visa programs.

"We regret that the Australian government chose not to use the available diplomatic channels available for them to raise concerns or to seek clarification".

South Africa's new president Cyril Ramaphosa has vowed to pursue the same course as Zimbabwe's former leader Robert Mugabe in expropriating farmland from white farmers without compensation. "We have the potential to help some of these people that are being persecuted".

"We want people who want to come here, abide by our laws, integrate into our society, work hard, not lead a life on welfare".

Commenting on a documentary about violent rural crime in South Africa, Australian immigration minister Peter Dutton said the farmers deserved "special attention", according to Australian domestic media reports. Under the current system, a refugee would first need to be referred by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to the Australian government.

Pretoria dismissed his comments out of hand.

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"We call on organisations like AfriForum who are spreading wrong information to cause panic and fear to refrain from doing so".

The South African foreign ministry has also hit out at Dutton, insisting that "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".

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

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. "That threat does not exist", he said.

White farmers are a racial minority in South Africa but own a disproportionate amount of farmland, as a legacy of the country's apartheid era.

But many in Australia have taken issue with the fact that Dutton seems more concerned about white African farmers than, say, the hundreds of non-white refugees locked up in Australian detention centres.

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