News / Africa

South Africa Trial Ends in Prison Sentence for Life

An effigy of the killer of right wing leader Eugene TerreBlanche is dragged behind a vehicle past protesters outside the court in Ventersdorp, South Africa, August 22, 2012.
An effigy of the killer of right wing leader Eugene TerreBlanche is dragged behind a vehicle past protesters outside the court in Ventersdorp, South Africa, August 22, 2012.
JOHANESSBURG — While South Africa mourned the deaths of more than 30 striking miners last week, a black farmworker, Chris Mahlangu, was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for the 2010 murder of white supremacist Eugene Terreblanche. In both cases, a culture of violence born in deep economic inequalities has been blamed.

The scene outside the court looked like the ghost of a shameful past. As Chris Mahlangu, Eugene Terreblanche's convicted killer, was being jailed for life, about 20 white supremacists carried a doll representing a black man with a rope around his neck and a sign that said "hang Mahlangu".  On the opposite sidewalk, 100 demonstrators sang racially-charged songs in support of Mahlangu.

Mahlangu's trial ended as it began two years ago:  in a heated atmosphere and amid accusations of a racist murder by the supporters of the white supremacist victim. But the judge concluded the motive was, first and foremost, a violent dispute over wages, that Mahlangu broke into his former employer's house at night, and beat him to death because he claimed Terreblanche owed him money.

An associate professor of social sciences at Wits University in Johannesburg, Devan Pillay, sees a link between this case and the Marikana mine massacre. "Just like the Lonmin Marikana massacre seems like a simple industrial relation dispute, it has huge symbolism for the whole country," he said.
 
Pillay says that both cases show extreme violence used as an answer to dysfunctional work relationships. To him, this is something specific to South Africa and is a legacy of colonialism and of white minority rule, known as apartheid.
 
"It put a spotlight on the extremely unequal relations between the employers and employees, which has characterized South Africa's industrial relation and social situation generally from colonial times through apartheid," Pillay explained. "And it persists today."
 
The deep inequalities trigger violence.  South Africa has one of the highest homicide rates in the world, as well as one of the biggest gaps between rich and poor. Pillay says these gaps have been the center of South Africa's economy for a long time. "Our economic system is based on cheap labor and continues to be based on cheap labor. Both in the domestic sphere, in Terreblanche's case, but also in the mining industry which has been the bedrock of our economy," he added. "Of the apartheid economy and post apartheid economy."

Last July, South African President Jacob Zuma himself said that the structure of the Apartheid-era economy has remained largely intact. While the country's economy is booming, nearly half of South Africans still live below the poverty line.

You May Like

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

1 Billion People Used Facebook on Single Day

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg praised the accomplishment in a posting on the social media site More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Truth Reversed
August 26, 2012 4:26 AM
Right from wrong is easy, applying it, is cause for concern,
The race card is frequently played in the "Blame Game" with much bias and will continue for the forseeable future. No mention is made of the BEE system which is now in place and discriminates against other population groups in terms of employment. Perhaps the Professor can elucidate how many expatriates are overseas working and explain promotion cases in the Police and other sectors, which have been challenged.

by: Dumas74 from: Afghanatan
August 25, 2012 7:14 PM
From Aparthied Police State to Xenophia Police State to Police Violence Aparthied State what a transsion of one half poor half rich country?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs