White South African
8.9% of South Africa's population
|Regions with significant populations|
|Throughout South Africa, but concentrated in urban areas|
White South African is a term which refers to people from South Africa who are of European descent and who do not regard themselves, or are not regarded as being part of another racial group, for example, as Coloured. In linguistic, cultural and historical terms, they are generally divided into the Afrikaans-speaking descendants of mainly Dutch, German and French settlers, known as Afrikaners, and the English-speaking Anglo-Africans who share an Anglophone background (mainly of British and Irish descent). South Africa's white population is divided into 61% Afrikaans-speakers, 36% English-speakers, and 3% who speak another language, most notably Portuguese. European South Africans are by far the largest European-descended population group in Africa.
White South Africans differ significantly from other white African groups, due to not only their much larger population, but because they have developed nationhood, as in the case of the Afrikaners, who established a distinct language, culture and church in Africa. The history of the Afrikaner nation can be traced back to the first white settlement of Africa with the arrival of the Dutch under Jan van Riebeeck in 1652. Therefore, their presence in Africa long predates the arrival of other white groups on the continent although the Portuguese began trading African slaves in the 1550s. White South Africans are also considered to be the last major white population group on the African continent, since the number of white people in other African states has declined to negligible figures. The role of whites in the South African economy and political arena has remained, which differs from other African countries, such as Zimbabwe, where whites were forced from the political spectrum. Whites number approximately 4.5 to 5 million, or between 9% and 10% of South Africa's population. This represents a decline, both numerically and proportionately, since white rule ended. It is estimated[by whom?] that as many as 800,000 whites have emigrated from the country since the end of apartheid in 1994, however some have since returned.
Under apartheid 
Under the 1950 Population Registration Act, each inhabitant of South Africa was classified into one of several different race groups, of which White was one. The Office for Race Classification defined a white person as one who "in appearance is obviously a white person who is generally not accepted as a coloured person; or is generally accepted as a white person and is not in appearance obviously not a white person." Many criteria, both physical (e.g. examination of head and body hair) and ed to classify someone as white or coloured. The Act was repealed on 17 June 1991.
The 1994 Employment Equity Act aimed at achieving equality in South African workplaces. In order to do this, the act required that it be possible to distinguish between black and white South Africans. It was necessary to know if someone was considered to be black or white when evaluating the racial composition of a company's workforce.
The Statistics South Africa Census 2011 showed that there were about 4,586,838 white people in South Africa, amounting to 8.9% of the country's population. This is a 6.8% increase since the 2001 census. Roughly 65% of white South Africans speak Afrikaans as their mother language and about 35% speak English. White speakers of Afrikaans sometimes refer to themselves as Afrikaners, but often also as "Afrikaans people". Unlike the Afrikaners, the English speakers have not constituted a coherent political or cultural entity in South Africa. Hence, the absence of a commonly accepted term to designate them, although 'English South African' or 'English-speaking South African' is used (see Anglo-African). Most English-speaking whites in South Africa are either of British or Irish ethnic origin.
Approximately 87% of white South Africans are Christian, 9% have no religion, and 1% are Jewish. The largest Christian denomination is the Dutch Reformed Church, with 34% of the white population being members. Other significant denominations are the Methodist Church (8%), the Roman Catholic Church (7%), and the Anglican Church (6%).
Many white people have migrated to South Africa from other parts of Africa following the independence of those African nations or when those nations became hostile to them. Many Portuguese from Mozambique and Angola and white Zimbabweans emigrated to South Africa when their respective countries became independent.
Meanwhile, many white South Africans also emigrated to Western countries over the past two decades, mainly to English-speaking countries such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States, and with others settling in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, France, Argentina, Mexico, and Brazil.
According to Statistics South Africa, white Africans make up 8.9% (Census 2011) of the total population in South Africa. Major cities in South Africa themselves actually have a white majority while the municipality they lie in has a black majority due to the inclusion of neighboring townships. Their actual proportional share in municipalities is likely to be higher, given the undercount in the 2001 census.
|Province||White population||Percentage of province||Percentage of whites|
White South Africans continue to participate in politics, having a presence across the whole political spectrum from left to right.
South African President Jacob Zuma, commented in 2009 on Afrikaners being "the only white tribe in a black continent or outside of Europe which is truly African." and said that "of all the white groups that are in South Africa, it is only the Afrikaners that are truly South Africans in the true sense of the word." These remarks have led to the Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR) laying a complaint with the Human Rights Commission against Zuma.
Former president Thabo Mbeki stated in one of his speeches to the nation that: "South Africa belongs to everyone who lives in it. Black and White." The history of white people in South Africa dates back to the 17th century.
There has been some rivalry and bitter feeling between Afrikaners and English-speaking Anglo-Africans. This is due in part to the Battle of Muizenberg, the First and Second Boer War, Britain's attempt to anglicize the country during the first half of the 20th century, and Afrikaner nationalism.
Prior to 1994, a white minority held complete political power under a system of racial segregation called apartheid. Many white people supported this policy, but some others opposed it; During apartheid, immigrants from Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan were considered honorary whites in the country, as the government had maintained diplomatic relations with these countries. These were granted the same privileges as white people, at least for purposes of residence. African Americans were sometimes granted an 'honorary white' status as well.
Today, the majority of white people support the Democratic Alliance, a liberal party led by Helen Zille, the Premier of the Western Cape. However a minority (especially among the Afrikaners) support the Freedom Front, a conservative party for Afrikaans interests. A minority of white South Africans also support the African National Congress, the ruling party of South Africa.
Current trends 
||This article's section called "Current trends" needs additional citations for verification. (November 2008)|
In recent decades there has been a steady proportional (and possibly also numerical) decline in the white African population, due to higher birthrates among the non-white population of South Africa, as well as high emigration. In 1977, there were 4.3 million whites, constituting 16.4% of the population at the time.
More recently, the improved counting of the majority black African population has contributed to a sharp decline since 1994. In 1994, upon the abolition of apartheid, white Africans comprised 13.6% of the population, compared to 9.1% in January 2010. According to some previous census data, the highest proportion of white people in South Africa occurred around 1911-41, when they made up between 19-21% of the population. It is estimated that at least 800,000 white Africans have moved abroad since 1995.
Like many other communities strongly affiliated with the West and Europe's colonial legacy in Africa, the white Africans are often economically better off than their black African neighbors and have only relatively recently surrendered political dominance to majority rule. There were also some white Africans in South Africa who lived in poverty—especially during the 1930s and increasingly since the end of minority rule. Current estimates of white poverty in South Africa run as high as 12%.
The new phenomenon of white poverty is often blamed on the government's affirmative action employment legislation, which reserves 80% of new jobs for black people and favours companies owned by black people (see Black Economic Empowerment). In 2010, Reuters stated that 450,000 whites live below the poverty line according to Solidarity and civil organisations, with some research saying that up to 150,000 are struggling for survival. Due to financial reasons, Afrikaner women are increasingly resorting to prostitution.
The Anglo-African population has a high relative turnover rate; not just of emigration, but immigration as well: By 2005, an estimated 212,000 British citizens were residing in South Africa. By 2011, this number may have grown to 500,000. Some white South Africans living in predominantly wealthy white suburbs, such as Sandton, have been affected by the 2008 13.5% rise in house robberies and associated crime. In a study, senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), Dr. Johan Burger, said that criminals were specifically targeting "richer" suburbs. Burger revealed that several affluent suburbs are surrounded by poorer residential areas and that inhabitants in the latter often target inhabitants in the former. Burger also related to an entitlement complex that criminals have; "They feel they are entitled, for their own sakes, to take from those who have a lot". The report also found that residents in wealthy suburbs in Gauteng were not only at more risk of being targeted but also faced an inflated chance of being murdered during the robbery.
The current global financial crisis has slowed down the high rates of white people emigrating overseas and has led to increasing numbers of white emigrants returning to live in South Africa. Charles Luyckx, CEO of Elliot International and a board member of the Professional Movers Association said that in the past six months leading to December (2008), emigration numbers had dropped by 10%. Meanwhile he revealed that "people imports" had increased by 50%.
Despite the decline, between 2009 and 2010, not only did the number of white South Africans increase by 112,000, but even their percentage increased from 9.1 to 9.2%. This made them the fastest growing ethnic group in that period of time, with a growth rate of 2.5%, far higher than the 1.4% for black South Africans.
Attacks on Whites 
There have been increasing incidents of prejudice against white South Africans since 1994. In particular the actions of prejudiced police personnel towards white victims have attracted media attention. White men arrested and held in overcrowded cells on minor or spurious charges have taken legal action against the government, as many have been raped, contracted HIV, and been assaulted by violent criminals (often rape and murder suspects) held in the same cells.
There are 40,000 mostly white commercial farmers in South Africa. Since 1994, over 4,000 [dead link] farmers and family members have been murdered in thousands of farm attacks, with many being brutally tortured and/or raped. Some victims have been burned with smoothing irons or had boiling water poured down their throats. An estimated 70,000 White South Africans have been murdered since 1994, mostly in urban areas.
Historical Population 
Statistics for the white population in South Africa vary greatly. Most sources show that the white population peaked in the period between 1989-1995 at around 5.2-5.6 million. Up to that point the white population largely increased due to high birth rates and immigration. However, between the end of apartheid and the mid-2000s the white population decreased overall (because of mass emigration), with some sources showing an overall decline of 1 million whites. However, since 2006 the population has fluctuated, rising and declining occasionally. It should be noted that the white population in some censuses are undercounted. The following table shows data from censuses and other dates, however there are undercounts in some census because farms and whites livings in gated communities reportedly do not receive census forms. The white undercount could be as much as 10%. These following figures should not be taken completely into account as some sources show the white population actually peaked at 5.6 million, rather than 5 million in 1990, and some sources also suggest that the white population still stands above 5 million, albeit 400,000 less than in 1994.
|Year||Total population||Annual % change||Source|
Percentage by province 1996-2011 
|Province||Percentage in 1996||Percentage in 2001||Percentage in 2007||Percentage in 2011|
Population by province 1996-2011 
|Province||White Population 1996||White Population 2001||White Population 2007||Total change 1996-2007||Total % change 1996-2007|
Population by province pre-1994 
|Province||White Population in 1904||White % in 1904||White Population in 1960||White % in 1960||% increase 1904-1960|
|Orange Free State||142,679||36.8%||276,000||19.9%||193.4%|
Fertility rates 
Contraception among white South Africans is stable or slightly falling: 80% used contraception in 1990, and 79% used it in 1998. The following data shows some fertility rates recorded during South Africa's history. However, there are varied sources showing that the white fertility rate reached below replacement (2.1) by 1980. Likewise, recent studies show a range of fertility rates, ranging from 1.3 to 2.4. Between Afrikaners and Anglo-Africans, the Afrikaners tend to have a higher birthrate.
|Year||Total fertility rate||Source|
Life expectancy 
The average life expectancy at birth for males and females
|Year||Average life expectancy||Male life expectancy||Female life expectancy|
|Province||(strict) White unemployment rate|
Percentage of workforce 
|Province||Whites % of the workforce||Whites % of population|
Religion among white South Africans remains high compared to other white ethnic groups, but likewise it has shown a steady proportional drop in both membership and church attendance with until recently the majority of white South Africans attending regular church services.
|- Christianity||3 726 266||86.8%|
|- Dutch Reformed churches||1 450 861||33.8%|
|- Pentecostal/Charismatic/Apostolic churches||578 092||13.5%|
|- Methodist Church||343 167||8.0%|
|- Catholic Church||282 007||6.6%|
|- Anglican Church||250 213||5.8%|
|- Other Reformed churches||143 438||3.3%|
|- Baptist churches||78 302||1.8%|
|- Presbyterian churches||74 158||1.7%|
|- Lutheran churches||25 972||0.6%|
|- Other Christian churches||500 056||11.6%|
|No religion||377 007||8.8%|
|Other or undetermined||117 721||2.7%|
|Total||4 293 637|
Notable White South Africans 
Science and technology 
- Christiaan Barnard, surgeon who performed first successful human heart transplant
- Sydney Brenner, biologist, (Nobel Prize, Physiology/Medicine 2002)
- Allan McLeod Cormack, physicist (Nobel Prize, Medicine 1979)
- Elon Musk, engineer, founder of SpaceX, Tesla Motors and Paypal
- Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu, a Linux based computer Operating system, and first African in space
- Max Theiler, virologist (Nobel Prize, Medicine 1951)
- Phillip Tobias, world-renowned palaeo-anthropologist
Arts and media 
- Jani Allan, columnist and radio commentator
- David Bateson, voice actor in the Hitman series
- Breyten Breytenbach, writer and painter
- Andre Brink, novelist
- J. M. Coetzee, novelist (Nobel Prize, Literature 2003)
- Johnny Clegg, musician noted for performing in Juluka and Savuka
- Sharlto Copley, producer, actor, and director
- Embeth Davidtz, actress, South African-American, born to South African parents in Indiana
- Duncan Faure, singer/songwriter and musician
- Athol Fugard, playwright
- Nadine Gordimer, writer (Nobel Prize, Literature 1991)
- Sonja Herholdt, Recording artist
- Sid James, actor (Carry On team)
- Taubie Kushlick, actress and theatre producer
- Antjie Krog, writer
- Deon Meyer, writer
- Die Antwoord, rap-rave duo
- Lara Logan, journalist and war correspondent
- Dave Matthews, grammy award-winning singer-songwriter
- Shaun Morgan, singer and guitarist for the rock band Seether
- Alan Paton, writer
- Debora Patta, journalist
- Sasha Pieterse, actress in the hit ABC family show, Pretty Little Liars
- Allister Sparks, writer and journalist
- Tammin Sursok, actress, born in South Africa, but raised in Australia
- Candice Swanepoel, Model
- Janet Suzman, actress
- Louise Taitz, esteemed owner of the famous On Your Toes Academy of Dance
- Charlize Theron, Academy Award-winning actress
- Pieter-Dirk Uys, performer and satirist, creator of Evita Bezuidenhout
- Sir Laurens van der Post, controversial author, conservationist, explorer, journalist and confidant to H.R.H. The Prince of Wales
- Etienne de Villiers, investor and prominent media and sports executive
- Sol Kerzner, accountant and business magnate mainly in the casino resort sector
- Harry Oppenheimer, chairman of Anglo American Corporation for 25 years and De Beers Consolidated Mines for 27 years
- Anton Rupert, founder of the Rembrandt Group
- Christo Wiese, consumer retail business magnate
- P. W. Botha, former State President of South Africa
- F. W. de Klerk, former State President of South Africa
- Sir Percy FitzPatrick, author, politician and businessman
- Derek Hanekom, Deputy Minister of Technology and prominent ANC member of Parliament
- Sandra Laing, a white girl reclassified as Coloured
- Ruth First, anti-apartheid activist and scholar, killed by the apartheid government in 1982
- D. F. Malan, former Prime Minister of South Africa
- Pieter Mulder, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, leader of the Freedom Front Plus
- Harry Schwarz, lawyer, politician, diplomat and anti-apartheid leader
- Joe Slovo, former leader of the South African Communist Party
- Field Marshal Jan Smuts, soldier, politician and former Prime Minister of South Africa
- Helen Suzman, anti-apartheid activist and former MP
- Eugène Terre'Blanche, former leader of the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging
- Koos van der Merwe, currently the longest serving member of Parliament (IFP)
- Marthinus van Schalkwyk, Minister of Tourism and ANC member of Parliament
- Hendrik Verwoerd, former Prime Minister of South Africa and primary architect of Apartheid
- Helen Zille, leader of the Democratic Alliance and Premier of the Western Cape
- Oscar Pistorius, athlete, world personality.
- Retief Goosen, professional golfer, twice US Open champion
- Graeme Smith, captain of the South Africa national cricket team
- Jody Scheckter, former Formula One auto-racer and winner of 1979 Formula One season
- Gary Player, former professional golfer, widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of golf
- Johan Kriek, professional tennis player and winner of the 1981 Australian Open
- Gerrie Coetzee, former boxer, first boxer from Africa to win a world heavyweight title
- Zola Budd, former track and field runner, broke the world record in the women's 5000 m twice in under three years
- Elana Meyer, former long-distance runner, set 15 km road running and half marathon African records
- François Pienaar, former captain of the Springboks, leading South Africa to victory in the 1995 Rugby World Cup
- Neil Tovey, former captain of the South Africa national football team, leading South Africa to victory in the 1996 African Cup of Nations
- Okkert Brits, former pole vaulter, holds the African record and only African in the "6 metres club"
- Penny Heyns, former swimmer, the only woman in the history of the Olympic Games to have won both the 100 m and 200 m breaststroke events, at the 1996 Summer Olympics
- Cameron van der Burgh represented South Africa at the 2008 Summer Olympics and at the 2012 Summer Olympics where he won the gold medal at the 100 meter breaststroke in a new world record
- Chad le Clos, swimmer and gold medalist in the 200m butterfly at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London
- Ernie Els, professional golfer, former World No. 1 and winner of four Majors
- Percy Montgomery, former rugby union player and current record holder for both caps and points for the Springboks
- Charl Schwartzel, professional golfer and winner of the 2011 Masters Tournament
- John Smit, past captain of the South Africa national rugby union team, leading South Africa to victory in the 2007 Rugby World Cup
- Giniel de Villiers, racing driver and winner of the 2009 Dakar Rally
- Paul Lloyd Jr., professional wrestler, currently signed with World Wrestling Entertainment performing under the name Justin Gabriel
- Matthew Booth, professional footballer.
- Carla Swart, collegiate cyclist, won nineteen individual and team cycling titles
- Wayne Ferreira, former tennis player
- Karen Muir, former swimmer
- Mariette Bosch, White South African murderer executed by the government of Botswana in 2001 for the murder of South African Ria Wolmarans
See also 
- "What’s in a name? Racial categorisations under apartheid and their afterlife". Archived from the original on 2006-06-23.
- Census 2011: Census in brief. Pretoria: Statistics South Africa. 2012. p. 27. ISBN 9780621413885.
- "Census 2011" (PDF). Statistics South Africa. 30 October 2012. p. 3. Retrieved 30 October 2012.
- "Table: Census 2001 by province, gender, language and population group.". Statistics South Africa. Retrieved 1 December 2009.
- "Table: Census 2001 by province, gender, religion recode (derived) and population group.". Statistics South Africa. Retrieved 1 December 2009.
- "Where have all the whites gone?". Pretoria News. 8 October 2005. Retrieved 2010-03-25.
- "Table: Community Survey 2007 by province, population group, gender and age group". Statistics South Africa. Retrieved 2 December 2009.
- "Zuma: Afrikaners true S Africans". Retrieved 3 May 2010.
- Zuma’s Afrikaner remark before HRC The Times. 3 April 2009
- "Address of the then President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, at the celebration of Nelson Mandela's 90th Birthday". African National Congress Website. 19 July 2008. Retrieved 2010-03-23.[dead link]
- Honorary Whites, TIME, 19 January 1962
- The pocket guide to voting in 2009 The Times. 29 March 2009
- White flight from South Africa | Between staying and going, The Economist, 25 September 2008
- Wood, Simon (22 January 2006). "Race against time". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 25 February 2013. "Certainly the new phenomenon of white poverty is often blamed on the government's Affirmative Action employment legislation, which reserves 80 per cent of new jobs for blacks."
- O'Reilly, Finbarr (26 March 2010). "Tough times for white South African squatters". Reuters. Retrieved 25 February 2013. "At least 450,000 white South Africans, 10 percent of the total white population, live below the poverty line"
- Wood, Simon (22 January 2006). "Race against time". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 25 February 2013. "some research claiming that up to 150,000 are destitute and struggling for survival"
- Wood, Simon (22 January 2006). "Race against time". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 25 February 2013. "With their menfolk unemployed, according to press reports, an increasing number of women are turning to the sex trade to maintain their lifestyle"
- "Britons living in SA to enjoy royal wedding". Eyewitness News. 28 April 2011.
- Fourie, Hilda (2 July 2008). "Criminals feel 'entitled' to steal". Beeld (Johannesburg). Retrieved 25 February 2013. "According to the police's latest crime statistics, which were announced at the Union Buildings on Monday, house robberies had increased countrywide by 13.5%."
- Fourie, Hilda (2 July 2008). "Criminals feel 'entitled' to steal". Beeld (Johannesburg). Retrieved 25 February 2013. "According to the report, Gautengers who live in richer neighbourhoods "like Brooklyn, Garsfontein, Sandton, Honeydew and Douglasdale, have a bigger chance of being targeted or murdered in house robberies"."
- Coming Home The Times. 21 December 2008
- "Cop: You whites must f*** off". News24. 6 November 2008.
- "Inmates sang to drown screams". iolnews. 22 October 2008.
- Adriana Stuijt (14 May 2010). Farm Murder death list: 1987 - May 11, 2010.
- Criminal Justice Monitor (31 July 2003). Report of the Committee of Inquiry into Farm Attacks. Retrieved 2006-10-11.
- Rounded to nearest thousand
- http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/cde/cdewp/88-25.pdf SSC.wisc.edu, pg.34
- "Table: Census 2001 by province, gender, religion recode (derived) and population group". Census 2001. Statistics South Africa. Retrieved 2 February 2012.