‘Shoot the boer song not a reference to farmers’

2011-04-15 14:26

The struggle song “shoot the boer” (“awudubhule ibhunu”) does not refer to farmers as such, Deputy Science and Technology Minister Derek Hanekom told the Joburg Equality Court today.

He was testifying for the defence in ANC Youth League (ANCYL) leader Julius Malema’s hate-speech hearing.

Counsel for AfriForum, Martin Brassey, told Hanekom that the words in the song referred to people.

Earlier, Hanekom told the court the song bore no reference to an ethnic group, and it referred to a system of racial oppression.

Brassey read the English translation to the court: “Shoot the boer, farmer. They are rapists, robbers. They are scared, the cowards. They rob, these dogs.”

He then asked Hanekom to consider the literal meaning of each line in the song and not the abstract.

Hanekom said those words did not refer to an individual, but rather to a system that should be destroyed.

Asked about the word “coward”, Hanekom said it was the system that was “grossly cowardly”.

Brassey also repeatedly asked him if he accepted that the term “boer” equated to farmer.

Hanekom denied it referred to farmers in reference to the song, but conceded that the literal translation would mean farmer.

“[The] literal construction is bloody in the extreme,” Brassey replied.

Referring to the 1995 Rugby World Cup, held in South Africa and which South Africa won, Brassey asked Hanekom what he would have thought if former president Nelson Mandela had sung the song at the event.

Hanekom said the question was hypothetical, but he thought Mandela would not have sung it, as it would have been inappropriate.
Malema would not have sung it at the event either, he said.

Hanekom said it would be helpful if those who felt hurt by the song rather understood it.

“The spirit [in which it is sung] does not even constitute to hate speech,” he said.

There was no intention to harm or incite violence when the song was sung.

“It’s in a friendly atmosphere.”

But, he would support a national dialogue with regards to it. He said: “We need to talk to each other a bit more.”

Hanekom said that from his experiences within the ANC, which he joined in 1980, it was never the party’s intention to “exclude anybody”.

The main objective was to achieve a non-racial, non-sexist and united society.

“White, black, Jewish, Muslim ... people sang struggle songs. It was very important as a mobilisation tool.”

Singing liberation songs today was a celebration of “who we are”, and “represent every part of our history ... and the fact we’ve brought to an end an unjust system”.

Earlier today, the court heard a witness “was too afraid to testify”.

Transvaal Agricultural Union of SA (TAU SA) counsel Roelof du Plessis told Judge Colin Lamont that his witness, who was the victim of a farm attack, had decided not to come forward out of fear for his life.

“The witness expressed sincere discomfort and apprehension. He has also raised concerns over his family, and for that reason will not testify on Friday,” Du Plessis told the court.

Lamont advised Du Plessis that his witness “need have no fear” as far as safety and security within the court was concerned.

Du Plessis said the witness was not just talking about court, but that his concerns also lay “outside this court”. 

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