We are all victims

2011-05-09 00:00

IT is with a great sense of shame that I find myself guilty of the same offence as ultra-right movements such as AfriForum and the Transvaal Agricultural Union (TAU). Like them, I have decided that farmers are white and the people who attack them are black. Each time I have read or heard about a crime on a farm, my mind’s picture has shown me black, mostly young, males as perpetrators and old, white men in safari suits as victims.

I am therefore guilty of the terrible crime of racial profiling. There are many instances where it is indeed a fact that young blacks are perpetrators and whites are victims.

But it is simply racist and short-sighted to think that in each farm attack the cast is exactly as my very South African mind has configured it.

It is no different to thinking that crimes such as house robberies, burglaries and hijackings in suburbia are committed by those who intend to steal from whites simply because they are white.

If this was the case, house robbers who stole from my house would have noticed that my children, whom they found and gagged, were black and therefore left without stealing anything. They didn’t.

They weren’t bothered by racial political correctness.

It would have made everyone’s life easy if criminals were as fixated on race as in their choices of whom they steal from or murder.

At least we would know whom to avoid and whom to run to for help.

Crime is probably the most equal-opportunity industry we have. All of us stand an equal chance of being victims as long as we own goods that criminals place a value on.

As suburbia is, for historical reasons, mainly white, most farmers are white and therefore most attacks against farmers will be against white farmers.

There are many farmers who are black and who are as affected by the same security issues as their colleagues, regardless of their colour.

But to dwell on skin colour diverts focus from an important battle of protecting the commercial farming sector and thereby ensuring food security in our country.

AfriForum and the TAU, on the other hand, believe that these crimes are a result of black people attacking whites on their farms just because the farmers are white. To them, blacks seek to harm them just to settle a historical score.

This kind of thinking clouds the issue and deprives an important South African constituency of a collective rage against those who seek to harm them and, by extension, us.

AfriForum and the TAU might think that they are speaking on their behalf, but by making the farming community a race or an ethnic group rather than an economic sector, they do this hard-working group a grave injustice.

They make South Africans, who are uninterested in or tired of race politics, indifferent to the wrongs perpetrated against farmers.

Intentionally or not, they perpetrate the stereotype of a farmer being a racist, white, male stuck in a 1977 state of mind.

All crime is unacceptable wherever it happens and whatever the motives of the criminal might be. To politicise it for short-term benefits serves no one.

Instead, as we have seen in this country, it alienates many who would and should be allies.

There can be no denying that there are farmers who treat fellow human beings who work for them worse than the animals they farm. But this is true for every sector where human beings employ other human beings.

There is no business sector (except perhaps in organised crime) where murdering your boss or those who work for you is an acceptable way of settling labour disputes.

AfriForum and the TAU must therefore get off their high horses and stop marginalising other South Africans who are affronted by crime against the farming community by making this a race issue when it is not.

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