The Brand family were unfortunate casualties in a war transcendent of race

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 Bikers gather for a mass ride to Parliament in Cape Town to protest against farm killings. When the dead are of a darker hue, the white voice is so pedestrian it might as well be silent, says the author. Picture: Jacques Stander
Bikers gather for a mass ride to Parliament in Cape Town to protest against farm killings. When the dead are of a darker hue, the white voice is so pedestrian it might as well be silent, says the author. Picture: Jacques Stander

VOICES


Whether Elzabe, Breggie and Danie Brand were street vendors or students; Uber drivers or doctors; coloured, black or, for that matter, white farmers, they did not deserve such a blood-curdling death.

Yet one must also wonder, precisely because they were white farmers, whether their murders were not always doomed to meet a yawningly familiar South African reaction.

The story had barely broken before social media buried the family beneath a heaped pile of rubble and racial innuendo.

Like some cyber throwback to the 2017 #BlackMonday protests, those dormant calls for government to prioritise farm murderers so as to nip in the bud what some swear is a slippery slope to an apocalyptic white genocide erupted on my timeline.

Peering under that muck, one was saddened that the Brand family seemed, at best, a hapless conduit; at worst, an insignificant afterthought.

Hate and paranoia denied them the respectful last rites duly owed to the deceased by, at the very least, putting them at the centre of their own misfortune.

One can’t imagine how savage and cruel their last moments on this earth were.

But even in death, their spirits seemed subjected to questionable ends by racists masquerading as aggrieved mourners.

It is nearly four times more dangerous to be on a farm than in other areas of South Africa.
Dianne Kohler Barnard

Despite that a black life is frequently and violently taken, more than in any other racial group in the country, it seemed it wasn’t enough to simply ascribe this particular murder to an ancient nationwide problem of crime.

Because they were white victims, there was always going to be some elaborate conspiratorial (probably EFF- or government-endorsed) underhandedness at play.

It is, however, a pity that, when the dead are of a darker hue, the white voice is so pedestrian it might as well be silent.

Few, if any, of them will carry placards outside court when some serial rapist or murderer is due to take the stand.

That seven members of the Khosa family were murdered and buried inside their Valkfontein home in 2018; or that this year a heavily pregnant Tshegofatso Pule was killed and hung from a tree has scantily mitigated the countervailing “buts”.

But, farmers ensure food security. But the ANC government just doesn’t care for minorities.

Phakamisa Mayaba

Yet none was honest enough to say: But in the Cape Flats, or Nyanga or Orange Farm, violence simply comes with the territory.

Of the 30 most dangerous places in the country, not a single one is “white”, according to last year’s SA Police Service data. None is a farming area.

In these spaces, stray bullets are known to maim and kill babies so often that it’s nothing new.

This is where real violence resides, where everybody sleeps with one eye open.

Read: SA experiencing a ‘crime holiday’, says Police Minister Bheki Cele

And, while the paranoid clutch at red herrings, it is opportune for hatemonger outfits such as AfriForum or the Suidlanders to swoop in.

Armed with such racial messages, these groups’ leaders – Ernst Roets and Simon Roche, respectively – had the ear of some solid alt-right and far-right figures around 2017 and 2018 in the US.

So well did they peddle this scandalous notion of an ensuing white genocide with its roots on the farms that the black majority purportedly seek to forcefully grab, that US news network Fox News and President Donald Trump bought the pitch wholesale.

Australia’s home affairs minister, Peter Dutton, was even eager to throw open his borders to welcome this exodus of persecuted whites.

These guys were so convincing that these first-world leaders did not even bother to first get their facts straight.

To further demonstrate his disdain, Dutton went as far as hinting that ours couldn’t be a civilised country.

No doubt Dutton’s sentiments would perfectly fit those of some of our white compatriots.

When he heard the fabrication, his mind drew a conclusion no different from those who saw the Brand case as nothing but “them” coming after “us”.

It’s a symptom of a white condition so common it has a researchable diagnosis – racial dissonance.

Though academics might make it look complicated, in practice it’s quite easy to see.

It’s in the language; “your president” many whites will say of the black first citizen. It is in eschewing the vernacular verses of the national anthem and convulsing at the inclusion of yet another black face on the Springbok rugby side.

It is to correlate merit with whiteness by assuming that all top-tier black professionals are nothing but quota appointments taking the jobs of competent whites.

So, by the time the DA had contributed its two cents’ worth to this matter, how wrong I was to think I’d heard it all.

It is “nearly four times more dangerous to be on a farm than in other areas of South Africa” said Dianne Kohler Barnard in an open letter to the president.

Read: DA joins criticism of ‘white genocide’ claims

She based this shocker on a 2016/17 Institute of Race Relations study whose “hard-to-believe” survey back in 2018 had this very publication’s “lowly newspaperman” scratching at his pate.

On its website, AfriForum points to how government has developed “counter-strategies to curb a number of unique crimes, including violence against women and children, gang-related violence...”

Surely when anything is prioritised, it comes with positive outcomes.

The French Revolution and the rise of the Third Reich are examples of what happens when people are going to bed hungry while others can afford to eat cake.

Yet the opposite is true when the country’s levels of femicide are five times higher than the global average.

Make no mistake about it, these figures are black or coloured women dying en masse at the hands of black or coloured men.

Black bodies are heaped high on the streets of the Cape Flats.

Behind the high fences and gated communities of suburbia, white women enjoy a safety unparalleled to that of women in any township.

The Brand family were unfortunate casualties in a war transcendent of race.

A war to be expected in a country of such vast disparities, where the richest 10% own 86% of the country’s wealth.

It’s not even an African problem as much as a historical and contemporary global reality.

The French Revolution and the rise of the Third Reich are examples of what happens when people are going to bed hungry while others can afford to eat cake.

We can cry racism all we want, but, until we realise the abnormality of having way too much when others go starving, chances are many will yet perish amid the obstinate myopia.

It’s just a pity that the Brands lived in a time when nobody was willing to face that reality and do something about it, rather than to invent nappy-haired phantoms in broad daylight.

Mayaba is a graduate and freelance writer


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