The South African government has blasted its Australian counterpart for suggesting white farmers are being persecuted and need help.

The South African government has taken aim at Australia’s Home Affairs minister, Peter Dutton, after he signalled his intention to fast-track visas to white farmers facing “horrific circumstances”.

“We think it is regrettable that the Australians have said what they have said. The diplomatic channels remain open, our diplomats are engaging,” said Ndivhuwo Mabaya, spokesperson for minister Lindiwe Sisulu.

“There is no need to fear… we want to say to the world that we are engaged in a process of land redistribution which is very important to address the imbalances of the past. But it is going to be done legally, and with due consideration of the economic impact and impact on individuals.”

The CEO Magazine earlier this week, drew attention to the plight of the white farmer in South Africa, pointing to first-hand accounts as told to News Corp reporter Paul Toohey, circulating online petitions, and concerns raised by AfriForum, a rights group that mainly represents the views of the white Afrikaner minority.

Mabaya has since accused AfriForum of pedalling fake news. He went as far as to say there is no threat at all.

“We call on organisations, like AfriForum who are spreading wrong information to cause panic and fear, to refrain from doing so,” he said on behalf of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO).

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

“There is no reason for any government in the world to suspect that a section of South Africans is [in] danger from their own democratically-elected government. That threat does not exist,” he added.

White farmers deserve special attention

Dutton reacted to news articles and television reports by saying the “persecuted” farmers — whose land is being expropriated under a constitutional amendment — “deserve special attention” from Australia.

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

“People do need help and they need help from a civilised country like ours.

“There are existing visa categories where we can accommodate people and we’re just looking at the moment as to what might be feasible. Hopefully we’ll make an announcement in due course.”

Another federal Cabinet minister, Steve Ciobo, agreed the farmers should be given special attention by Australia, arguing the situation in South Africa was “cause for concern”.

“Let’s be frank, if we see in this case — people who are being thrown off their land, being persecuted, I’ve read of people being shot, raped, all sorts of different things — then I do believe that there’s a role to be played.”