Few weeks back on a plane to Rio I had a very interesting debate with someone from an opposition party about crime in general and farm murders in particular. His view was that white people in South Africa is being targeted, because of apartheid. He said that it is evident in the fact that most / all of these murders are black on white. That the level of violence in them shows a total disregard for human life and to some extent hatred.
I have to admit, listening to his argument made it really hard for me to counter it. The points he made was valid, inter alia following, to wit: -
· The level of brutality: there was this article in the news (he also referred to same) where this old lady was burnt with an iron. You cannot argue against brutality of acts like these, but why would you?
· The fact that most farm attacks is black on white: One would be foolish to ignore this racial connotation as almost all cases of farm murders reported in the news is black on white.
· Most of these crimes are committed against old people: Most cases reported are about old couples attacked on their farms. It is here where the connotation with apartheid is made. I know a lot of people who see old Afrikaner farmers as “apartheid boere”. I can see why it is easy to make the argument that these people are targeted because they are white and old and to be honest, that argument may just be true, I honestly don’t know it just might be true.
Based on this he deduced that there is indeed genocide against white people in South Africa and that they are targeted more than any other race. There are more news reports on white people getting murdered than any other race. Although I could not agree with the genocide part, I conceded to the latter, but just because the news does not report on all the murders in locations across South Africa does not mean they don’t happen.
I asked this gentleman of all these people in the reports he used as premise to his argument; how many did he personally know. With a bemused look on his face he said none. I asked he if he personally know anybody who was murdered. He said yes, he spoke about his grandfather’s cousin who killed his wife in the 1960’s. He never met these people, but it’s a family story. He even made a joke about that woman’s ghost in that farm house.
The difference between me and this gentleman was that I actually personally know people who were murdered, none of which had the courtesy of a news report. People like Brendan, my best friend when I was in Grade 4. He went to visit his aunty in Manenberg. He went to the shop to buy bread. Gangsters started shooting and a bullet hit him. There was our neighbour; he went to a wedding in Newlands, Durban. He was stabbed to death, after trying to fight off guys who were trying to rob his wife. No news report on his death. There was Thandi. We used to call her Mona Lisa because of her smile. She was my cousin’s girlfriend. She was raped and murdered in Phillipi. This one hit me harder than all the other people I know who got murdered, because the day before she died me and my dad made fun of her because she was a UDM supporter. Like always, Mona Lisa smile and showed us the finger.
Why am I telling you this? What possible relevance could it have to the matter at hand? Most of you reading this may want to ask the same. Most of you, like the gentleman on the plane would not personally know more than two people who were murdered, yet you will be most vocal about the so called genocide.
I bet you can go to any location across South Africa and ask any random person if he / she personally know somebody who was murdered and just like me they will have more or less the same stories, unreported stories. I am not saying the media should report on all murders, but the media not reporting on it does not mean it did not happen.
How does the above go against the genocide claim, especially since I conceded that most of the points of the gentleman in the plane were valid. Look, this is not a “my pa is sterker as joune” type of argument comparing battle wounds. My argument is based on the belief that just because the media elects to report on farm attacks more than murders in the locations, does not mean they happen more. It is murder just as any other murder; it just gets reported on more. So before you climb on your genocide high horse, just because you read about these murders in the papers, spare a thought for all the other murders and the families of the victims of same. I assure you, their pain is the same. Their suffering is the same; they are just not reported on this often. I agree that the brutality of some of these farm murders are sickening, but so too was the murder of Anene Booysen and so many other unreported cases. I mean do you know the story of the young girl dubbed Little Rock (who passed away in Blackheath).
My point is; murder is murder. There is no black v white; it is just honest South Africans v murderers. If we can start seeing it like that, this entire genocide thing becomes ridiculous. Unlike most of you, some of us have lost people we actually know through murders, thing is just we don’t scream genocide.