Don’t let the title fool you, we’re being controversial for the sake of attention. This isn’t about politics or racism. In fact, it isn’t about anything that the humans in positions of power on this planet find important at all.
Posts in this category are about South Africa, from the perspective of a white Afrikaans male (maybe more than one in some cases). It’s about the paradoxes that come with being African. The love we have of this place and how negative we are about it in word and deed. The glory of the jungles, savannahs, deserts, wetlands and the creatures that inhabit them, torn apart by wars. The genuine friendliness of the people and the greed that drives them.
A(nother) man was murdered in South Africa today. This one happened to be on a farm, and happened to be white. If the latest (2009) statistics on farm attacks from the SA government are to be believed, we’re looking at 165 attacks per year with an increasing trend.
But what seemed to have made all the difference in this case is that the man murdered was Eugène Terre’Blanche.
White South Africans in particular may find themselves paralyzed, or worse, making wild generalised statements out of fear. Not because they share ET’s far-right wing ideologies, but because of a conflation of unfortunate events.
Our local court jester, Julius Sello Malema, led a gathering in the singing of Idubula Ibhunu (“Shoot the Boer”) at the University of Johannesburg on 9 March 2010 (source, accessed on 4 April 2010). This led to a backlash throughout the month that eventually saw the song as being declared hate speech, but had the ruling party (the African National Congress) respond by appealing the decision. Naturally, many white South Africans saw this as the government supporting the hatred of whites (and minorities in general) Malema seems to be preaching, rather than seeing it as them attempting to defend their right to sing any song they pleased, anywhere they liked.
The South African constitution doesn’t allow that amount of freedom of speech, however (from my limited knowledge of consititional law). You (whether black or white) aren’t allowed to sing a song with the lyrics “Shoot/kill the Boer” anymore than you’re allowed to sing a song with the hypothetical lyrics “Burn the Black” or “Run over the Indian with an 18-wheeler.”
So because we let our government and our government’s sock puppets keep us in racially charged fear we might be tempted to see this attack for more than it is.
All indications currently point to a wage dispute. Both News24 and The Post have reported that the SAPS have stated that their current theory for motive is that ET didn’t pay his murderers for work they did for him. It is most likely that it had nothing to do with the infernal song that is at the foremost part of our collective psyche. It is even highly possible that the murder had nothing to do with Terre’blanche’s prior sins.
Occam’s razor pointing to the likelihood of a more conventional money-based motive rather than a racial one shouldn’t be that comforting, though. At the risk of being overly speculative I think this is a unique opportunity to get depressingly analytical about the state of the nation.
Hundreds of farm attacks occur every year and yet there’s rarely as quick and definitive a response as has been to ET’s. Within hours two young men were arrested and charged with his murder. Most farmers that are attacked like this don’t have the privelege of such swift justice. It’s ridiculous how differently you’re treated by the police when you have a known face, or when the media is watching a case. It’s unacceptable, in fact.
Let’s say the murder was financially motivated. More specifically, revenge for money not received because with the employer dead the employees obviously won’t be able to get their pay. How much could Terre’blanche have owed them? Let’s overestimate and say just shy of R10 000 each. That’s well above the average monthly wage for a skilled worker. It’s likely that these two young men were labourers and not skilled workers (reducing that estimate to R3000 each) but we don’t know that for sure yet.
R20k… Is that what a life is worth?
Maybe that’s too utilitarian a view. Maybe this was about the principle of the thing and not just the money. One man promised two young men compensation for work and then didn’t hold up his side of the bargain. Revenge for broken trust, not just unpaid wages. Not impossible, but completely unlikely.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Bheki Cele and heard him speak informally about the state of crime in South Africa. I don’t know how much of the conversations in private meetings like that are appropriate to disclose, but suffice it to say the man’s impromptu speech gave me hope for this country.
There seem to be a number of issues where the commissioner and I don’t see eye-to-eye, however. There was his emotional reaction to seeing a small replica of “Die Prinsevlag” on a woman’s desk, and then there’s todays news where he’s quoted as saying that only law enforcers should need guns. This is one of the advertisement taglines of Beeld today as well, probably because it’s a topic that’s close to home for the majority of the Afrikaans demographic who are a bit like Texans when it comes to issues of gun control.
Now there’s a good chance that what Cele said is being taken horribly out of context (by me and the media), but considering the ANC’s history with gun control matters, I think it’s fair to assume that it was meant as we interpret it. It also makes sense for governments to not want their civillians armed, or otherwise capable of defending themselves, because it means they can bully or strongarm them into doing whatever they want.
I think it’s important for me to state at this point that I think our current firearm legislation is good. The focus of the law is on preserving the sanctity of life. That is why you aren’t allowed to shoot a fleeing perpetrator, or fire upon people for trespassing on your property. You may only attempt to kill someone who is threatening your, or someone else’s life. That’s a good principle, if practically a little insensible. Generally by the time a robbery gets to the point where someone’s life is threatened it’s almost too late to do something about it (and live).
Our current legislation requires people to prove that they are competent enough to own a firearm. You need to pass an easy test and learn something about the law and firearms you’re applying for in the process. You’re legally allowed a combination of four firearms (neatly outlined at GunFactsSA), none of which may be automatic (unless you are a collector). That is cause for some concern, but for the average citizen that wants to protect themselves, a semi-automatic handgun or pump-action shotgun are good enough.
That said, the statements/threats of disarmament made by the people in government that seem to get to make unilateral decisions about these things, are troubling. They seem to be generally discontent with the level of protection the current law offers us.
If only the law enforcers and military have guns, how will the citizens protect themselves from a corrupt government? The truth is that governments are afraid of their citizens rising up when they’ve had enough, so they want to make sure their citizens have as little power to affect such change as possible. The fact is that despite our modern ‘civilised’ age might still makes right. If a government decides to oppress a people, or decides to wipe them off the planet, kick them out the coutry, or blame them for all their woes then their ability to execute that decision is proportional to the ability those citizens have to protect themselves.
In the words of V (from the film, probably not from the book): “People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.”
Or from a less fictional source: “The [balance of power] would be preserved were all the world destitute of arms, for all would be alike; but since some will not others dare not lay them aside. And while a single nation refuses to lay them down, it is proper that all should keep them up. Horrid mischief would ensue were one half the world deprived of the use of them; for while avarice and ambition have a place in the heart of man, the weak will become a prey to the strong.” –Anonymous: Attributed to Thomas Paine, Thoughts on Defensive War, July, 1775 [source]
While Paine was referring to war on the scale of nation against nation, I believe the philosophy can, and must be applied on a smaller scale.
When it comes to gun control, I’m with Chris Rock.
Last week (Thursday, 10 September 2009) Percyval Matji was found guilty of the murder of Bernadine Kruger. Today, a week later he was sentenced to 12 years in prison
For those who don’t know what this is about, Percyval Matji had driven into the back of Bernadine’s scooter while she was on her way to school in Garsfontein. When she fell the taxi drove over her and she was killed.
This case has been plagued with accusations of incompetence as the police on the scene let Matji leave without taking him into custody. Fortunately nothing came of the slip up and Matji was arrested when the murder charges were brought against him. Of course, then the judge posted a R1000 bail on the condition that Matji disclosed the full details of his other address in Mpumalanga and reported to the police station every day. Patterson increased the bail to R5000 when the prosecution protested that the convicted murderer needed to be placed in custody
Finally, in what is probably the fastest conviction I’ve seen, Matji was convicted of murder and sentenced to 12 years in prison. When Magistrate Edmund Patterson handed down judgment he was quoted as saying, “It was not a mistake. It was not negligence.” In context he was saying that Matji’s actions were deliberate – an obvious pre-requisite for a murder conviction. On top of the prison sentence Matji was declared unfit to own a firearm and his license and permit to drive were revoked.
No justice, no sentence will bring Bernadine back, but I for one hope that this ruling sends out a strong message to taxi drivers everywhere.
You can’t endanger the lives of other road users or the lives of your passengers and get away with it.
With the introduction of competing services in Johannesburg like BRT you no longer hold a monopoly over affordable transportation. You now have to treat your customers like customers and not cattle if you want to keep them.
If you endanger the lives of the people that share the road with you there will be hell to pay. If you continue to treat your customers like dirt, or endanger their lives then you will be minus your livelihood.
This comes after at least 70 MDC supporters have been killed. Robert Mugabe‘s answer to the “imperialist West” to the allegations that opposition supporters are being killed by mandate of the government is that the media is once again misrepresenting what is happening in Zimbabwe to justify their interference in the country.
Military action seems to be the only option left. A smart campaign could be conducted relatively bloodlessly but it would have to be led by South Africa, the only country in the region with the standing and the military might to carry out such an action. And South Africa is showing no will to act. [http://www.thestandard.org.nz/?p=2298]
In some respects I agree with Steve. It is obvious that non-violence seems to be a tactic only the opposition are interested in. But I disagree that any military campaign conducted by South Africa against Zimbabwe will be “relatively bloodless.” I also agree that New Zealand should offer its support – but that South Africa should decline. At least initially.
Evidently a number of motorists are filling up and then speeding off without paying. Fin24 says so… so believe it coz it’s true! Peter Morgan, chief exective from the Fuel Retailer Association (FRA) said that there were at least 10 similar incidents in the past month.
The latest one involved a Durban man driving into and knocking down a 29-year-old petrol attendant, causing injuries to his spine and hand. In a related incident, a man from Pretoria stole R2 570′s worth of petrol at a petrol station on Hans Strijdom Avenue in Waterkloof Ridge.
Now Morgan (from the FRA) tries to empathise with the consumer, stating that “People are doing this because they have no choice…”. I applaud him for his desire to see the situation from another’s perspective, but there is always a choice. Each incident has a unique set of circumstances. Given that there are only “about 10 similar incidents” a generalisation is especially foolish. Even if there were a greater sample to draw from generalisations only serve to neglect certain elements in a sample.
I don’t really watch a lot of television. But there’s a secret cache of talkshow programmes on South African television on Sunday nights that are quite interesting to watch if you’re in a, thinking, inquisitive, open-minded mood.
The first I watched was Asikhulume, and the second Interface. Interface did a pretty cool piece on the deregulation of the fuel industry in the light of the massive petrol price hike this month.
Asikhulume/Let’s Talk asked an interesting question: “Has the South African government promoted reconciliation at the cost of transformation?” They had 3 semi-famous people on their panel: a black woman whose name I can’t remember, a white dude called Dan Roodt representing Afrikaner interests, and a black man called Aubrey that was the most rational around that whole table (hostess included).
A New Zealander nominated to receive the highest honour from South Africa that a foreigner can receive, the Companion of OR Tambo Award asked for the nomination to be withdrawn. To put things in perspective, this award has been given to Mahatma Gandhi, Kofi Annan and Martin Luther King jnr.
As we say in South Africa: “Eish!” Typically this interjection is followed by raucous laughter after such a massive dis that secures the dissers obvious victory (as well as asserts his superior manhood) over the dissee.
John Minto was the national co-ordinator of the Halt All Racist Tours movement during the 1981 Springbok tour to New Zealand.
According to News24 Mr Minto told the Christchurch Press the following:
“(South Africa) was the democratic country with so much hope and I think for so many people it’s been the deepest of disappointments, and certainly it has been for me.
“I’m just deeply dismayed at what’s happened.”
In an open letter to President Thabo Mbeki, Minto also said, “When we protested and marched into police batons and barbed wire here in the struggle against apartheid, we were not fighting for a small black elite to become millionaires.
“We were fighting for a better South Africa for all its citizens. The faces at the top have changed from white to black but the substance of change is an illusion.”
Here’s hoping that if enough of the right people (such as old anti-Apartheid activists and the growing black middle class) keep complaining, someone will start listening. At the very least here’s hoping that enough people wake up in time to rock the vote.
Loadshedding(n): Describing the state of being load-shed. Rolling blackouts, beurtkrag (directly translated: turn-power). Also commonly referred to as “An economy-crippling, job-destroying nightmare of galactic proportions initially thought to be only due to government and Eskom’s short-sightedness regarding the retention of skills.”
I say “initially” because Carte Blanche has opened a nice big, juicy can of worms tonight with their insert entitled “Eskom’s darkest hour.” For those not in the know, Eskom is South Africa’s only electricity-providing utility.
Now to be fair, I don’t regard Carte Blanche as a shining star of investigative journalism. Sometimes they’re just another hype machine, but sometimes they deliver blogworthy stuff ;-D.
My stance today is that while there is likely a major skill-shortage in Eskom (and various other businesses/sectors in South Africa), that is not what has lead us to the point where rolling blackouts are an every day occurance. Once again it’s profiteering gluttony. Capitalism gone mad. Now don’t get me wrong:
Dirk Hermann from the Solidarity trade union said that South Africa is becoming increasingly race-obsessed. This was reported by Fin24 almost a month ago in reference to the responses to Jimmy Manyi’s call to have white women removed from the “Previously Disadvantaged” list in Affirmative Action (AA) legislation.
I’m going to cleverly avoid the topic of white women in affirmative action by picking some related topic and focussing on that.
First I was going to disagree about the choice of the word ‘obsessed’ and argue that very few South African are, in fact, obsessed about race. That only those with a roof overhead, food on the table, running water and electricity have the luxury of obsessing about race.
But then I saw a fantastic opportunity: Nitpicking about the word ‘race!’