Do white people have a future in South Africa? According John Simpson, the world affairs editor of BBC News: Yes, there is a future for the prosperous white middle class and the upper-class whites (who remain shaded from poverty by their apartheid booty). This is not the case for the poor whites and white farmers. The poor whites, it appears, are facing neglect and antipathy. The farmers on the other hand are facing a murderous scourge (some may even say “genocide”).
There are serious issues with Simpson’s article and many other foreign press reports carrying similar sentiments. The first issue is the glaring bias and sloppy journalism.
The author of the BBC article says that “in South Africa you are twice as likely to be murdered if you are a white farmer than if you are a police officer — and the police here have a particularly dangerous life. The killings of farmers are often particularly brutal … the government has so far been unwilling to make solving and preventing these murders a priority”.
Firstly, it is untrue that government is not willing to solve the crime problem in South Africa. For many years crime has been a top priority of the ANC government. At one stage President Jacob Zuma appointed Bheki Cele as police commissioner, a man who declared unashamedly that police should “shoot to kill” dangerous criminals.
The South African justice system, although it may be inefficient, treats murderers equally irrespective of the race of the person killed. The man who murdered Afrikaner right-winger and farmer Eugène Terre’blanche is today serving a sentence in prison. He was prosecuted by the South African government.
What Simpson means is not that government is ignoring murder, but that the government is not making the murder of “whites” a priority. There isn’t any proof that a white person is more likely to be killed than a black person.
Simpson goes on to speak about a “targeted killing” of white farmers and police disinterest. He makes no effort to consult the police station involved and to ask (or at least try to ask) about the reasons for their alleged disinterest. What does it even mean to “show little interest”? Does this mean the police refused to jump into their cars and chase after the suspects? Does it mean the police refused to open a docket or to investigate the murder?
Simpson adds later that “the daughter and sister of the men who died, told me how dangerous the lives of white people in the countryside have become”.
He makes no effort to check this assertion against statistical facts. If he did bother to do some research, he would have discovered that “victim surveys conducted from 1997 to 2000 show that the poor, the majority of whom are black and coloured and living in townships, are more at risk of being victims of interpersonal violent crimes as well as violent property crimes like robbery”.
It is clear therefore that his article is not fair reporting. The true purpose of his article comes out in his assertion that “in the old days, the apartheid system looked after whites and did very little for anyone else. Nowadays white people here are on their own”. It was the same jaundiced perspective on South Africa that led the Australian Protectionist Party to call for fresh sanctions on South Africa for genocide on white people.
There is a cold feel to the tendency to artificially compartmentalise problems facing South Africa into neat little racial boxes. This tendency drives Simpson’s tacit suggestion that white poverty (where it exists) is different from black poverty; that murder of white people is different from murder of black people.
According to Simpson “apartheid South Africa looked after white people and nobody else. Now some of its white communities face a level of deprivation, or of violence, which threatens their future in the country”. White people should be repulsed by this. Firstly, they should be repulsed by the idea that they belong to apartheid South Africa. Secondly, they should be repulsed by the idea that they need to find a “way out” of South Africa, their only home.