News / Africa

Farm Murder, Anti-Apartheid Song Stoke Racial Tensions in South Africa

Multimedia

Scott Bobb

In South Africa, racial tensions have been heightened in some sectors of society following the murder of white supremacist leader Eugene Terre'Blanche.  Two black farm workers have been charged with his murder, but Terre'Blanche's supporters blame the killing on what they say is hate speech by the youth leader of the ruling African National Congress.

The killing of the leader of the Afrikaner Resistance Movement (AWB), Eugene Terre'Blanche, drew thousands of sympathizers from across South Africa to his funeral in this conservative farm community in Northwest Province, west of Johannesburg.

Two black farm workers were charged with murder amidst a tense faceoff between whites and blacks outside the town courthouse.

Most white South Africans reject Terre'Blanche's extreme right-wing views.  But his death brought a show of support for white farmers, who say 3,000 of their group have been killed since the end of apartheid 16 years ago.

Academic studies say most farm murders are criminally motivated.  But Terre'Blanche's supporters like Kurt Helfer say they are meant to drive white farmers from their land, and they accuse the black-led government of doing nothing to stop them.

"We will have to stand together as one nation, especially all the whites, as it looks like all of our lives are in danger.  So we will definitely have to do something," said Helfer.

Some blame Terre'Blanche's murder on the youth leader of the ruling African National Congress, Julius Malema, who recently revived an anti-apartheid song with the refrain, "Shoot the Boer," or white farmer.  ANC senior leaders have told Malema to drop the song.

Emotions were also high in the nearby township, Tshing, where black farm workers were airing their grievances before trade-union leaders.

The workers complain that some white farmers pay them a fraction of the minimum wage, make them work seven days a week, beat them or do not pay them at all.  And they say the government and unions do nothing about it.

Local resident Pule Plaatjie says relations between the races have improved since the end of apartheid, but Terre'Blanche's group has remained racist.

"The relationship between blacks and whites it has been changed.  There [are] many differences.  But really here in Ventersdorp, people, like those who are in the AWB, they do not want to change," noted Plaatjie.

A young leader from the Communist Party, Themba Mbatha, says relations between blacks and whites are better in some ways.

"To a certain degree we have mended our relations," said Mbatha.  "It is easier now to relate with some of the white people.  But at same time it is worse because what happened is that apartheid only died institutionally, in terms of being implemented by government."

Kerwin Lebone of Johannesburg's Institute of Race Relations says centuries of racial conflict could not fade away in the mere 16 years since the end of apartheid.

"Nothing can be worse than what was in the past in [before] 1994.  They are certainly better.  And a lot of things are improving.  It is just that it is our society that has come from such a history of racial hatred that each and every little incident will always be highlighted and blown out of proportion," explained Lebone.

The frictions go beyond rural communities.  In the cities, well-off whites and blacks bunker behind walls fearing criminals in a society with one of the widest gaps between rich and poor in the world.

More than half of young blacks are unemployed.  Yet, young Afrikaners say they cannot find jobs because equal opportunity policies favor the hiring of blacks.

Lebone says much of the tension is due to poverty and rising anger over the lack of improvement in living conditions for most South Africans.  But he says most South Africans do not want conflict.

"There will never be another race war in South Africa," added Lebone.  "I think people have learned from the past and we respect each other enough [too much] to go back to the horror of the past."

He concludes that despite the legacy of racial hatred in the country, most South Africans want to live together in peace.

You May Like

Multimedia Baltimore 'Victory Rally' Follows Charges in Detainee Death

Saturday's rally is largest organized gathering since state's attonrey filed felony charges in police-custody death of Freddie Gray More

UN Denies Child Sex Abuse Cover Up in CAR

UNHCR says senior official suspected of leaking report suspended for breaching rules More

Nepal Officials Slammed Over Aid Response

VOA News has compiled from various organizations complaints from across Nepal of bottlenecks at customs, repeated harassing inspections of aid convoys and seizure of goods More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil Wari
X
Henry Ridgwell
May 03, 2015 1:12 AM
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Black Families Use Baltimore Case to Revisit 'Police Talk'

Following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody this month, VOA interviewed black families throughout the eastern U.S. city of Baltimore about how they discuss the case. Over and over, parents pointed to a crucial talk they say every black mother or father has with their children. Victoria Macchi has more on how this conversation is passed down through generations.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video 'Woman in Gold' Uses Artwork as Symbol of Cultural Identity

Simon Curtis’ legal drama, "Woman in Gold," is based on the true story of an American Jewish refugee from Austria who fights to reclaim a famous Gustav Klimt painting stolen from her family by the Nazis during World War II. It's a haunting film that speaks to the hearts of millions who have sought to reclaim their past, stripped from them 70 years ago. VOA's Penelope Poulou reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video First Surgical Glue Approved for Use Inside Body

While medical adhesives are becoming more common, none had been approved for use inside the body until now. Earlier this year, the first ever biodegradable surgical glue won that approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on the innovation and its journey from academia to market.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Study: One in Six Species Threatened with Extinction

Climate change is transforming the planet. Unless steps are taken to reduce global warming, scientists predict rising seas, stronger and more frequent storms, drought, fire and floods. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, a new study on species extinction underscores the need to take action to avoid the most catastrophic effects of rising temperatures.
Video

Video Taviani Brothers' 'Wondrous Boccaccio' Offers Tales of Love, Humor

The Italian duo of Paolo and Vittorio Taviani have been making movies for half a century: "The Night of the Shooting Stars," "Padre Padrone," "Good Morning, Babylon." Now in their 80s, the brothers have turned to one of the treasures of Italian culture for their latest film. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver reports.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Baltimore Riots Shed Light on City’s Troubled Past

National Guard troops took up positions Tuesday in Baltimore, Maryland, as authorities tried to restore order after rioting broke out a day earlier. It followed Monday's funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died while in police custody earlier this month. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Challenges Await Aid Organizations on the Ground in Nepal

A major earthquake rocked Nepal on Saturday and killed thousands, injured thousands more and sent countless Nepalese outside to live in makeshift tent villages. The challenges to Nepal are enormous, with some reconstruction estimates at around $5 billion. Aid workers from around the world face challenges getting into Nepal, which likely makes for a difficult recovery. Arash Arabasadi has the story from Washington.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs