OPINION | Open letter to Mmusi Maimane from a white Afrikaner: Forgive, redeem and move on

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Mabine Seabe with OSA activist Mmusi Maimane at Parliament in June 2019. (Jan Gerber, News24)
Mabine Seabe with OSA activist Mmusi Maimane at Parliament in June 2019. (Jan Gerber, News24)
Jan Gerber

Former IFP MP Koos van der Merwe has written an open letter in response to Mmusi Maimane's article published by News24 in which he addressed white people. 

Mmusi, thank you for talking to us white people trying to find solutions for the state of our devastated, bankrupt and crime-ridden land. But kindly allow me to also talk to black people in our land, seeing as you are trying to find solutions for the crisis in which we all find ourselves.

Our history proves that both white and black South Africans have made mistakes. White people are mainly blamed for apartheid. I do not intend to dwell on mistakes by black South Africans as that would lead to a dog-fight on dozens of issues and would be counter-productive.

Let me therefore share some thoughts with you as an Afrikaner who was born in 1937 and grew up in the Old South Africa. I wish to share history as I see it, with which you are obviously welcome to differ.

We Afrikaners lived in our parts of the land according to our values and our own way of life. We survived numerous murderous attempts to destroy us as an Afrikaner nation.

In 1802, 470 of our farms were plundered and deserted; in 1836 Dingane broke his written contract with Piet Retief and had 602 Voortrekkers slaughtered; we survived the unspeakable murderous and criminal actions of the British against us in the Anglo-Boer War, when around 50 000 black and white women and children died in British concentration camps, 30 000 farms were destroyed and hundreds of thousands of cattle were killed. We also survived the dreadful 1930 depression. We developed a motto: My doodkry is min! (I can’t be beaten)

We became prosperous due to our own initiatives, creativity and a refusal to perish as a nation.

We created giants such as Sanlam, Iscor, Helpmekaar, Federale Volksbeleggings and many more.

Hendrik Verwoerd was appalled in the 1950s to discover that there were no government schools for black children. He introduced black government schools. We hail the black workers who with their labour assisted us to build the white areas.


In trying to protect our parts of South Africa, our ancestors used a number of strategies to protect what we regarded as ours in our land of birth.

We restricted blacks from entering white areas without permission and passed other apartheid laws which Verwoerd intended to revoke once the plan to partition South Africa (also called apartheid) succeeded. In fact, we practised self-defence to protect our borders, to retain our right to political self-determination and our value system.

When I think back to those days, I understand the dream cherished by my ancestors to live in a land of our own.

Today, however, I think they did not look deeply enough into the future.

Had they done that, they would have seen the massive and ever-increasing numbers of black South Africans and that somewhere in the deep future an eventual unitary state was inevitable.

READ | News24 readers respond to Mmusi Maimane's open letter to white South Africans

So, Mmusi, blame us for apartheid.

We have on more than one occasion apologised. However, my story does not end here. Please have patience with me and look at how I experience the current status of us Afrikaners and whites in general.

The ANC is targeting whites in a number of ways aimed at what appears to be deliberate attempts to discriminate in an almost inhuman manner against us as a specific section of South Africa’s population. May I remind you that crimes against humanity have been described as: Acts deliberately committed as part of an attack aimed at a specific sect of the population."

In 1984, the ANC supported this definition and is doing exactly that against white people.

I need not remind you of the quota system, affirmative action, taking land without compensation, attempts to take Afrikaans out of the legal system, actions to suppress Afrikaans, a white student with 90% matric marks cannot study Medicine because he is white. South Africa is the only place on the planet where 60 million people are to be protected against around 3 million.

Let me end here and say in conclusion that I may have solution.

Let us do what the Reverend Jesse Jackson told an ANC gathering which Mangosuthu Butheleizi and I attended in Johannesburg some years ago:

“Forgive, redeem and move on”.

- Koos van der Merwe is a former IFP MP. 

*Want to respond to the columnist? Send your letter or article to opinions@news24.com with your name and town or province. You are welcome to also send a profile picture. We encourage a diversity of voices and views in our readers' submissions and reserve the right not to publish any and all submissions received.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

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