Racism in South Africa

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Racism in South Africa is widely regarded as an ongoing problem. Since the demise of Apartheid it remains a societal rather than an institutionalised problem.

Colonial racism[edit]

During the Colonial era, the Cape served as strategic base for the Colonial expansionist interests in the east. For this purpose settlements were established by the Dutch East India Company at the Cape of Good Hope in 1652, followed by Britain seizing the Cape Colony in 1806 during the Napoleonic wars, resulting in some areas being governed by the British and some by the Dutch.[1]

The region attracted ivory and slave traders who imported slaves for wheat farming and viticulture to serve the European settlements. In response to Colonial subjugation, fleeing black natives and slaves, joined existing groups such as the Xhosa or formed groups that were headed by warlords such as those of Bloem, Kok and Barends families. By the late 18th century, Arabs and Europeans traded beads, brass, cloth, alcohol and firearms in return for slaves, ivory, gold, wax, cattle and skins. The profits from these trade practices encouraged the warlords to hunt elephants and slaves by raiding the local communities such as Rolong, Tlhaping, Huruthshe and Ngwaketse. During the Difaqane, the Zulu under Shaka overran many smaller tribes and enslaved them.[1]

Although slavery was formally abolished in 1833 with the Slavery Abolition Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, slaves were continued to be imported from Britain's established settlements in India and the East Indies. The practice of importing slaves from India stretches back to the 1600s when the Dutch bought slaves from various parts of India who were sold by the then Muslim rulers. By the early part of the 18th century, 80% of the slaves were South Asians who were not just from the Indian subcontinent but also those South Asians who were living in South-East Asian countries such as Java.[2]

The Roman-Dutch law defined slaves as property that could be traded, bought and sold, a form of slavery known as 'chattel slavery'. There are many examples of racism and discriminatory practices during the Colonial period such as whipping, starvation, being forced to work for long hours, laborers having to carry passes, being subject to high taxation, not being able to walk on the sidewalks, banned from living, entering or working in certain areas such as the Orange Free State.[2] Other examples include allocation of rations during the Siege of Ladysmith.

For Whites—Biscuit, 1/4 lb.; Maize meal, 3 oz.
For Indians and Kaffirs—Maize meal, 8 oz.
Europeans—Fresh meat, 1 lb.
Kaffirs—Fresh meat, 1-1/4 lbs. (Chiefly horseflesh.)
For White men—Coffee or tea, 1/12 oz.; pepper, 1/64 oz.; salt, 1/3 oz.; sugar, 1 oz.; mustard, 1/20 oz.; Vinegar, 1/12 gill.
For Indians—a little rice.

— H. W. Nevinson[3]

The word "Kaffir" was used without derogatory connotations during the Dutch and British colonial periods until the early twentieth century.[4]

Apartheid racism[edit]

Apartheid (Afrikaans pronunciation: [aˈpartɦəit]; an Afrikaans word meaning "separateness", or "the state of being apart", literally "apart-hood") was a system of racial segregation in South Africa enforced through legislation by the National Party (NP), the governing party from 1948 to 1994. Under apartheid, the rights, associations, and movements of the majority black inhabitants and other ethnic groups were curtailed, and white minority rule was maintained. Apartheid was developed after World War II by the Afrikaner-dominated National Party and Broederbond organizations. The ideology was also enforced in South West Africa, which was administered by South Africa under a League of Nations mandate (revoked in 1966 via United Nations Resolution 2145), until it gained independence as Namibia in 1990. By extension, the term is currently used for forms of systematic segregation established by the state authority in a country against the social and civil rights of a certain group of citizens due to ethnic prejudices.

The Indian community has been subject to Zulu racist attacks dating back to the arrival of indentured labor in South Africa which ultimately resulted in the Durban Riots of 1949 followed by riots in 1985 where homes for 1500 Indians were set on fire.[5]

Post-Apartheid racism[edit]

Racial populism and anti-white sentiment is an increasing worry in post-Apartheid South Africa. Afrobarometer research has indicated that perceptions of discrimination have increased significantly since 2011 amongst citizens from minority race groups, especially among those of Indian ethnicity.[6]

Racism against White communities[edit]

According to R.W. Johnson, although post-Apartheid South Africa initially strove to be a non-racial dispensation under President Nelson Mandela, subsequent presidents Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma both mobilised anti-white sentiment in order to maintain political power.[7] It has been claimed that racism against white people goes largely ignored in South Africa, and that political parties like the African National Congress (ANC) and the Economic Freedom Fighters foment discontent and racial animosity for political purposes.[8][9]

Democratic Alliance MP Gwen Ngwenya has accused South Africans of "hypocrisy and dishonesty of treating black South Africans as the victims", noting that racism aimed at white people elicits little reaction from the populace.[10] A comparative study by trade union Solidarity confirmed that South African media give more attention to white-on-black racism; it also found that the South African Human Rights Commission is much more likely to self-initiate investigations into white-on-black racism, and is more lenient in cases of black-on-white racism.[11]

Journalist Ed Herbst has claimed that public broadcaster SABC's coverage of racism is skewed so as to portray white South Africans, particularly Afrikaners, as racist oppressors, and black South Africans as their victims.[12] Farm invasions, torture, and murders, the victims of which are predominantly white, receive little attention or government response.[13]

Former Supreme Court Judge Rex van Schalkwyk has stated "Almost entirely ignored by the selective moralists are all the innumerable examples of black racialism, with whites as the targets. There has also been a selective process of law-enforcement by the various law-enforcement agencies...".[14]

The F.W. de Klerk Foundation in 2016 stated "black South Africans are far more violent and racist towards their white compatriots than vice versa" and appealed to the South African Human Rights Commission to intervene on the issue of racism and hate speech against white South Africans. Its complaint to the commission detailed "45 social media postings that incite extreme violence against white South Africans." The foundation also said "an analysis of Facebook and Twitter messages shows that by far the most virulent and dangerous racism – expressed in the most extreme and violent language – has come from disaffected black South Africans. The messages are replete with threats to kill all whites – including children; to rape white women or to expel all whites from South Africa."[15]

In 2017, certain ruling-party ANC government targeted white people with threats in official speeches.[16][17]

Anti-White violence[edit]

In 2004, William Kekana was sentenced to six life terms and 60 years in prison for crimes including murder, abduction and rape. Kekana and his deceased accomplice, Charles Fido Baloyi, kidnapped Janine Drennan, 24, her one-year-old daughter Kayla and Kayla's grandmother, Hester Rawstone, on July 31, 2003 from Arcadia in Pretoria. Drennan was then raped and all three victims were murdered. During questioning Kekana said that Drennan, baby Kayla and Rawstone had been killed because they were white.[18][19][20]

In 2009 Alice Lotter, 76, and her daughter Helen, 57, were tortured to death at their farm in Allenridge, Free State. According to forensic evidence, the victims had died excruciatingly painful deaths and had been tortured for several hours. The victims had been stabbed with broken glass bottles in their genitals and one had had her breasts removed while still alive. The police officer who found the victims stated "Miss Helen Lotter was so severely injured that I found two large pieces of her body-fat the size of my hand lying next to her on the kitchen floor where she was found covered in blood." The attackers had used the victims' blood to paint "Kill the Boer (white farmer)" on the walls of their homestead.[21][22]

During 2014, Knowledge Mandlazi embarked on a killing spree in the Brits farming area. He was convicted of murdering 5 whites and was subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment. In court Mandlazi stated "My hate for white people made me rob and kill". While Mandlazi was led out of the courtroom after his conviction he gave the middle finger to the surviving victims in the gallery.[23][24]

In an ongoing court case regarding the 2011 rape of a Rayton mother and her two teenage daughters, aged 15 and 17, the mother testified "He said sex was nicer with a white woman and I was a rich white b***h".[25][26]

On February 15 2009 a 37-year-old pregnant white woman was assaulted and raped by three attackers in Port Alfred. The victim was strangled to stop her from drawing attention while the trio took turns raping her. During court proceedings one of the attackers stated their actions were the only way they could get a "white b***h."[27]

Nicci Simpson, a white woman, was severely assaulted during a six hour long planned attack at her farm in 2017. Simpson spent two months wheelchair-bound with pins in her knees following the attack where a power-tool was used to drill holes into her feet, chunks of flesh were removed from her arm and a knife was pushed into her head. Eventually the attackers left after leaving Simpson suffocating with a plastic bag over her head. Simpson stated during the attack she was repeatedly referred to as a "white f***ing b***h".[28][29][30]

Annamarie Eksteen, a 57 year old cancer sufferer, claimed R160 000 from the minister of police after she said she was unlawfully arrested, assaulted, referred to as a 'white b***h' and maliciously prosecuted by two female police officers. She was released after the prosecutor refused to pursue the case and underwent emergency surgery on her right arm the next day.[31]

Anti-White hate-speech[edit]

A Gauteng government official, Velaphi Khumalo, in 2016 stated on Facebook "White people in South Africa deserve to be hacked and killed like Jews. [You] have the same venom. Look at Palestine. [You] must be [burnt] alive and skinned and your [offspring] used as garden fertiliser".[32] A complaint was lodged at the Human Rights Commission and a charge of crimen injuria was laid at the Equality Court, however, as of 2018, no conviction has occurred.[33]

In March 2018 a screenshot of a controversial Facebook post allegedly written by EFF Ekurhuleni leader Mampuru Mampuru surfaced. The post read "We need to unite as black People, there are lessthan 5 million whites in South Africa vs 45 million of us. We can kill all this white within two weeks. We have the army and the police. If those who are killing farmers can do it what are you waiting for. Shoot the boer, kill the farmer." [sic]. Mampuru denies making the statement.[34]

After 76-year-old white Professor Cobus Naude was murdered in 2018, black senior SANDF officer Major M.V. Mohlala posted a comment on Facebook in reaction to Naude's murder, stating "It is your turn now, white people… [he] should have had his eyes and tongue cut out so that the faces of his attackers would be the last thing he sees".[35] Mohlala received a warning of potential future disciplinary action by the SANDF.[36] Subsequently Ernst Roets of AfriForum contrasted Mohlala's punishment against that of convicted white racist Vicki Momberg, stating "The inconsistency being applied in this country regarding minorities has reached the level of absurdity... The reality in South Africa is that a white person who insults a black person goes to prison, while a senior officer in the defence force who says white people's eyes and tongues must be stabbed out is simply asked nicely not to repeat it."[37]

A photograph emerged of a University of Cape Town student who wore a shirt which read "Kill All Whites" in a residence dining hall during early 2016.[38] The university later identified the wearer as Slovo Magida and reported the matter to the SAPS and HRC.[39] During a parliament debate on racism MP Pieter Mulder of the FF+ read out the contents of the shirt, to which some MPs shouted "Yes! Yes!".[40] As of 2018 no further action against Magida has been taken.

During April 2018 a Judicial Services Commission tribunal found that 'drunk judge' Nkola Motala's racist comments could justify his removal as a judge. Motala crashed into a wall whilst driving under the influence of alcohol in 2007. After the accident Motala swore at a white onlooker, Richard Baird, and referred to him as a 'boer'.[41]

Julius Malema leader of the third-largest party Economic Freedom Fighters stated at a political rally in 2016 that "we [the EFF] are not calling for the slaughter of white people‚ at least for now". When asked for comment by a news agency, the ANC spokesperson, Zizi Kodwa stated that there will be no comment from the ANC, as "[h]e [Malema] was addressing his own party supporters." This was however met with backlash from white and black South Africans.[42] While still the ANCYL leader, Malema was taken to the Equality Court by AfriForum for repeatedly singing "dubul' ibhunu", which literally translate as "shoot the boer [white farmer] This was sung as a struggle (against Apartheid) song in context, He at another political rally in 2018 stayed "Go after a white Man... We are cutting the throat of whiteness." This was in reference to the removal of Athol Trollip, a white mayor, from office in Port Elizabeth"[43][44]

This led to the DA accusing the EFF's leader, Malema, of racism and not sharing the more tolerant views of South Africans broadly.[45]

Racism against Black African communities[edit]

Penny Sparrow, a 70 year old real estate agent suffering of blindness who lives in the coastal city of Durban compared African people as a whole to dirty monkeys that litter on the previously white only beaches and was apologetic for her remarks, defending them as being taken out of context. She was fined over R150,000 ($13,000) to which she had two months to pay off until the equality court gave her two years to pay off for the sole reason of making only R1,400 ($98.04) per month, and sentenced to two years in prison by the courts for these remarks. She later left her home after receiving numerous death threats.[46][47][48]

Two white men, Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Jackson, forced a black man into a coffin and threatened to set him alight for trespassing.[49]

Protests conducted by the Afrikaans group AfriForum in opposition to what they claim farm murders against whites have turned racist, with protesters singing "Die Stem" alone without the rest of the anthem. In this context it makes reference to the Apartheid anthem of the stem. Secondly, they raised the old Apartheid flag. These actions have been defended by some as part of their "culture". This has been said to show that there is a form of mass-racism on the part of white farmers and those who support them.[50]

A white farm worker has also been accused of racism for allegedly chaining a black man to a post and beating him while calling him derogatory names.[51]

A white man and his sons allegedly beating Mthunzi Sibuyi, a young black man, while he was walking out and saying goodbye to his friends, until he fell and bled from the brain (due to the fall from the punch) as they (the white family) did not approve of Sibuyi dancing with a white girl. Sibuyi alleges that the white men said that "k***ers getting comfortable with the white girls!" The men allegedly proceeded to sexually harass the girls (who have laid charges) up until the point that the group decided to leave to prevent any incidents. While they walked away the White men allegedly followed them and beat Sibuyi. Yasin Yildirim, a friend of Sibuyi's also claims the White man attempted to drive them over..[52]

A group of white men allegedly verbally abused and humiliated staff at a restaurant near Stellenbosch. In response to this a black student claimed their response was that anyone who did not speak Afrikaans was an alien in the area. He said that "They were whistling at them like they were whistling [at] dogs. They even jumped over the counter and they were patting them like they were dogs. Yourself, you feel disrespected. You know this is racial, this disrespect," After deciding to leave the restaurant the three young white men and four other young white men allegedly followed him outside and proceeded to hit him.[53][54]

In another incident after organizing a peaceful demonstration to support inclusivity and diversity at the inauguration of a white rector at the Stellenbosch University Duma received a text message that read "Jou swart moer van die wit boer" — "You black bastard from a white farmer."[55][56]

Tumi Mpofu said he was denied a restaurant reservation after giving his surname and said the restaurant alleges it was full, however he said when he asked a white friend to check by making a reservation after his, his white friend got a reservation.[57][58][55]

Thabang Moisiako, a black athlete, had his head smashed onto a pavement at a bus stop. The attack was allegedly performed by a group of white students who Moisiako said attacked him when he criticised their racist remarks to another man. The attack was allegedly racially motivated and caused Moisiako to be hospitalised due to his injuries.[59]

Vicki Momberg, a prominent real estate agent, was sentenced to two years in prison for racist remarks she made against black people in Johannesburg. She was the victim of a smash and grab incident and a black police officer approached her to assist her. She responded by verbally abusing him and making racial remarks about the "low caliber of black people in Johannesburg" and used the derogatory K-word 48 times in a video-clip of the incident.[60][61][62][46]

Racism against Coloured communities[edit]

In 2013 Wayne Blaauw, a 25 year old coloured man and father of two, was murdered by approximately 60 black residents of the Middelpos informal settlement. Blaauw's father stated Blaauw's face had been hacked "from ear-to-ear" with a panga, his skull had been broken and his entire body was covered in bruises. After his death a neighbour of Blaauw stated "Die swartes het dit duidelik gemaak dat hulle nie gaan ophou voordat ons almal dood is nie" ("The blacks have made it clear that they will not stop before we are all dead"). Another coloured man, Denver Telmarks, narrowly escaped the mob while travelling to repair a fridge in Middlepos. Telmarks said "Hulle het geskree dat hulle ons almal gaan vrek maak die dag as Madiba sterf" ("They shouted that they're going to kill us all when Madiba dies").[63]

Racism against Indian/Asian communities[edit]

There are over 1.2 million South Africans of Indian descent, with the majority being situated in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.

In 2015, Phumlani Mfeka, a KwaZulu-Natal businessman and the spokesman for the radical Mazibuye African Forum tweeted "A good Indian is a dead Indian".[64][65][66] He published a letter in the city press claiming that South Africans of Indian origin have no right to citizenship and property in South Africa. Mfeka also claimed there is a "ticking time bomb of a deadly confrontation" between Africans and Indians in KwaZulu-Natal. The South African court barred him from making anti-Indian remarks in Nov 2015.[67]

In 2017, political leader Julius Malema stated during a rally in KwaZulu-Natal "They are ill-treating our people. They are worse than Afrikaners were. This is not an anti-Indian statement, it's the truth. Indians who own shops don't pay our people, but they give them food parcels," and accused local politicains of being in the pockets of Indian businesspeople.[68] Malema also said that the success of Indian businesses in the province was due to their strategies of exploitation and monopolisation of the economy.[69] Malema also referred to Indians in 2011 as 'coolies' (which is considered a strongly offensive pejorative term in contemporary South Africa).[70]

Complaints of attacks on the ethnic Chinese community on social media have led to charges being filed against certain individuals. The Chinese Association in Gauteng planned to also file a complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission.[71]

Racism against Jewish communities[edit]

Vigilante group PAGAD is believed to be responsible for bombings between 1998 and 2000 targeted at synagogues.[72] PAGAD's leaders have become known for making anti-semitic statements. A 1997 incendiary bomb attack on a Jewish bookshop owner was found by police to have been committed with the same material PAGAD has used in other attacks.[73]

In May 1998 Radio 786, a Cape community radio station run by a Muslim organisation and aimed at Muslims, broadcast a programme denying the Holocaust. The resulting legal action brought by the South African Jewish Board of Deputies remains unresolved. Radio 786 refuses to apologise to the Jewish community and has stood by its version of events.[74]

The 2001 Durban Conference against Racism (CAR) meeting was marked by clashes over the Middle East and the legacy of slavery, and coincided with attacks on Israel and anti-Israel demonstrations at a parallel conference of non-governmental organisations.[75] Canada, followed by the U.S. and Israel walked out midway through the 2001 conference over a draft resolution that, in their opinion, singled out Israel for criticism and likened Zionism to racism.[76]

In 2009 South Africa's deputy foreign minister Fatima Hajaig claimed that "Jewish money controls America and most Western countries." Her comments prompted criticism by Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and a reported "dressing down" by President Kgalema Motlanthe.[77] She subsequently apologised on two separate occasions for her remarks.[78]

In 2013 ANC Western Cape leader Marius Fransman claimed 98 percent of land and property owners in Cape Town are "white" and "Jewish". The allegation turned out to be false.[79]


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