Blacks in bondage

2010-04-11 11:13

Venterdorp is South Africa. If we want to understand South ­Africa, then we need to look more closely at Ventersdorp, a town that springs up at you in the heart of the North West maize belt.


I grew up in Potchefstroom on the Haagners farm, a stone’s throw away from Ventersdorp.


This dorpie eloquently tells the story of the ­criminal neglect of black people by the ANC ­government in the past 16 years. Go see for yourself the demeanour of black residents. They are tense and fearful, a powerful symbol of black powerlessness, because the ruling party has made a pact with the devil.


Until his death, Eugene Terre’Blanche and his gun-toting men were allowed to spread terror. ­Almost every black person who lives around ­Ventersdorp knows the wrath of the AWB. In 1997, a young black mayor of Ventersdorp, Kabelo ­Oupakie Mashi, a staunch member of the SACP, stood up against the bullies of Ventersdorp.


He transformed budgets, cajoled the local criminal justice system to take racist violence seriously, and attempted to bring freedom to Ventersdorp.


Mashi was abducted and murdered, his body left in the veld. Witnesses were openly intimidated and the murder remains unsolved. If a mayor can be killed for challenging white power and the ­perpetrators can get away with it, what chance do ordinary mortals have?


Terre’Blanche had carte blanche to terrorise black people.


When he got out of jail , the first people to publicly and warmly welcome him back were the ANC and the SACP.


Government accepted the status quo as long as the AWB didn’t extend its reign of white terror too far beyond North West.

In Potchefstroom, known AWB members such as Pieter and Bob Haagners joined the ANC and continued their terror, now under the protection of the people’s movement. The vicious Jan Serfontein became an ANC MP and ­later an MEC in North West.


Growing up, I remember that when Terre’Blanche came to town blacks would clear out. “Ons sal nie ons land terug koop nie; ons het dit klaar gekoop met die bloed van ons mense,” the radio would ­bellow.


There is no evidence that Luthuli House was ever going to come down and liberate Ventersdorp’s black slaves. Black life in Ventersdorp was ­destined to continue in morbid fearfulness with new and old scars of white supremacy.


But that changed with the killing of Terre’Blanche. I went to Ventersdorp this week in solidarity with the accused to ensure that they were not lynched.


We stand sandwiched between the local ­magistrates court and the Boer monuments that bear the names of the Afrikaner patriarchs who inspire the AWB. They are ugly, cheap and fragile. It’s as if they represent a memory that is slowly fading away.


Young blacks stand on top of the monuments with the hope of getting a glimpse at the accused. We wait for hours in the sun. Then, as the first accused, barefoot like Jesus Christ, is pushed into the Casspir, the crowd breaks out as one: “Amandla! Hero! Hero! Hero!” It was a moment of total identification with those accused of murdering ET. They were saying: “If you didn’t see the faces of the accused,it’s OK, you have seen our faces. We are the accused!”


We are seeing a new kind of black youth – one pushed into a corner. Whoever murdered ET is seen, here, as a hero bigger than those who went to exile or spent time breaking stones on Robben Island. This is what one hears from the people of Tshing. ET was the ultimate symbol of white ­supremacy, but he was killed by mere children.


What kind of nation allows its children to become murderers in order to defend themselves? Why was a 15-year-old a farm labourer? Why did he need to toil in order to live?


This is how life is in Ventersdorp and its ­surrounds. Blacks live in servitude.


Tshing, like all townships, is still a reserve for cheap labour for ET and his men.


It’s a crying shame that in the past 16 years of democracy, only 6% of the land has been transferred to blacks.


More than a million farm workers have been evicted from land since 1994. As long as blacks ­remain landless, they remain subjected to racism.


Malema’s reckless rhetoric, in this context, is a cruel manoeuvre for self-enrichment. The ANC doesn’t need to implore anyone to kill the Boer. It must simply use its political power to change things. The problem is not the white racists, but the refusal of the ANC to use its political mandate to end racism. The singing of militant liberation songs in an attempt to voodoo the people is not the solution. The solution to ending racism lies in ­ending the unequal economic power relations. It’s much simpler than BEE and tenders.


When I go to Ventersdorp, I see a microcosm of South Africa – racist, untransformed, supremacist.

  • Press Ombudsman
Ventersdorp article breached Press Code

Mr George Annandale complained to the Press Ombudsman about an article in City Press

written by Andile Mngxitama and published on April 11 2010, headlined Blacks in

bondage. The Ombudsman’s offices note that Mngxitama wrote the article in his personal capacity and that it was in no

way related to his fulltime work.

According to the complaint, the article falsely implied that former Ventersdorp mayor Kabelo Mashi was murdered by white

rightwing extremists and, further, that the article is aimed at the propagation of racial hatred.

The Press Ombudsman found that it was

unreasonable and ­irresponsible for Mngxitama to present as a fact the

allegation that Mashi’s murder remains ­unsolved, whilst not mentioning the

subsequent court case in which Bota Monatle was convicted of the murder.

Although the Ombudsman accepted that some may still regard Mashi’s murder as

controversial, he found that the article breached the Press Code in failing to take fair account of all the

available facts whilst commenting on them (Press

Code, Art. 4.3).

The Ombudsman conceded that the publication in City Press two weeks later of an article by James Myburgh, which set out the facts around

the court case in detail, considerably balanced out the reporting.

Mr Annandale’s complaint that the article was aimed at propagating racial hatred was

dismissed. The Ombudsman found that although the article contains highly critical views on the AWB, it

does not constitute ­incitement to cause harm nor does it contain denigratory

­references to people’s race, ­colour or ethnicity.

The full ruling can be found on Press Council.


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