Eugene Terreblanche is Dead

The murder of a far right politician and the new victim discourse among white South Africans.

A beach for Whites only near the integrated fishing village of Kalk Bay, not far from Capetown. January 1, 1970. Image credit UN Photo.

The murder of  South African white supremacist leader, Eugene Terreblanche, over the weekend, will surely be exploited in the next few days by racists and those bitter about the country’s transition to democratic rule. Terreblanche was beaten and hacked to death by workers on his farm on Saturday who, according to reports, had “argued with him over unpaid wages.” Terreblanche had a violent history himself, including spending time in prison for beating one of his workers, a black man, nearly to death in 1997.

Though his murder is symptomatic of criminal violence in South Africa – and we don’t know much about the killers’ motives and that most victims of crime are black –  already all kinds of people will be trying to score political points and make claims about a race war against whites.

Watch how this crime (with its own context) will become part of a larger discourse among whites – and on Afrikaans media websites – about a supposed “genocide” or “volksmoord” (murder against Afrikaners).

As The Economist, not known for its anti-white views, reported last week:

According to the South African Institute of Race Relations, a think-tank, research suggests that at least 90% of the attacks on white farmers [since 1994] were “purely criminal”. Labour disputes accounted for others. Only 2% were said to be motivated by “racial animosity.”

The claims of a race war is of course part of a larger discourse that white are being marginalized from public life and the professions, despite evidence to the contrary.

Already, the mostly white leadership of the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) –  a party that never miss an opportunity to score political points of anything bad that happens to white South Africans – was quick to imply that the murder had something to do with “racial tensions” and specifically with an old struggle song with lyrics that include “Kill the Boer” favored by the ANC Youth League leader, Julius Malema.  It is worth noting that there is little evidence that ordinary black people share Malema’s fascist views or that he is linked to the crime.

That Malema exploits genuine grievances that poor black South Africans have with the new South Africa is a more important story.  Or that the workers are now singing songs against Malema and the ANC for its failure to do much about their plight in the last 15 years. So also is the silence about the humiliation, exploitation of and violence against black farmworkers in South Africa’s countryside.

But that wouldn’t stop the DA from scoring political points.

Similarly, I scanned sites like Afriforum (a white farmers’ union) and Solidariteit (a white pressure group passing as a trade union and obsessed with affirmative action) where writers, bloggers or commenters could not stop themselves from recycling these claims.

But it all fits in well with the new victim discourse among white South Africans. Media outlets are partly to blame.  In some instances – as in this Reuters photo story – white poverty is exaggerated and treated as unnatural.  The media and Afrikaner “civil rights” groups, of course, say little about black poverty or crimes against black people.

On a side note: Earlier today I read on Afrikaans newspaper, Rapport, that Terreblance opposed the 1970s “liberal” regime of John Vorster.   Vorster was “liberal”?

Further Reading

Between two evils

After losing its parliamentary majority for the first time, the African National Congress is scrambling to form a coalition government. The options are bleak.

Heeding the call

At the 31st New York African Film Festival, young filmmakers set the stage with adventurous and varied experiments in African cinema.