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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid