Working Lives South Africa

Farmer Louis Meintjes

Speaking in his office, flanked by two Great Danes, farmer Louis Meintjes says he can trace his South African heritage back to the 1730s.

Farming has never been an easy life but in the past it was more certain.

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Where once farmers in the Transvaal region enjoyed a high standard of living, today they say they are targeted by violent assailants.

"It's not good for the health of society to be under siege by criminals," he says pointing out that he was attacked last year.

"I was woken when they broke the window, I made sure my wife was safe and called for help on the radio," he recalls.

"When they heard the radio, they shot at me," he says pointing to a mark on the ceiling where the bullet hit.

"I shot back (and) when I came out they had gone, but there was blood all over. Hopefully I hit one of them."

Such attacks have been linked to the continuing controversy over land reform. White farmers still own the vast majority of land in South Africa.

The government originally aimed to redistribute 30% of land by 1999 but that deadline slipped to 2014 and to date just 8% has actually changed hands.

Louis maintains that the ANC-led government is stirring up antipathy towards white South Africans.

Promising land reforms is a political vote-winner, he says, but something that works much less well in practice.

"We need to get the violence out of South Africa," he insists.

"We need to put behind us what happened. I know it might sound difficult but unless we do that we won't be able to go forward.

"We have to get past race. You are a white South African, I am a black South African. We are South Africans."

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