Pretoria has reacted with anger to a suggestion by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton that white farmers in South Africa need help from a “civilised country” like Australia.
Mr Dutton said he believed the farmers deserve “special attention” because they faced violence and land seizures.
“If you look at the footage and read the stories, you hear the accounts, it’s a horrific circumstance they face,” Mr Dutton told The Daily Telegraph on Wednesday.
“We have the potential to help some of these people that are being persecuted.”
“That threat does not exist,” the South African foreign ministry in Pretoria was quoted by Reuters as saying.
“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.
“We regret that the Australian government chose not to use the available diplomatic channels available for them to raise concerns or to seek clarification.”
AfriForum, a rights group representing primarily the white Afrikaner minority, praised Mr Dutton’s comments but said it was not in favour of mass emigration, Reuters reported.
“Our future is in Africa, not elsewhere,” chief executive Kallie Kriel said.
Mr Dutton said he had directed the Home Affairs department to explore whether the farmers can be accepted into Australia through refugee, humanitarian or other visas, including the in-country persecution visa category.
“I do think on the information that I’ve seen, people do need help, and they need help from a civilised country like ours,” Mr Dutton said.
He suggested an announcement could be made soon.