White farmers 'being wiped out'
Over 3,000 have been killed since 1994. Now the ANC is accused of fanning the hate.
March 28, 2010
Dan McDougall in Ceres, Western Cape, Sunday Times.UK
THE gunmen walked silently through the orchard. Skirting a row of burnt-out tyres, set ablaze months earlier to keep the budding fruit from freezing, they drew their old .38 revolvers.
Inside his farmhouse Pieter Cillier, 57, slept with his 14-year-old daughter Nikki at his side. His 12-year-old son JD was having a sleepover with two teenagers in an adjoining room.
As the intruders broke in, the farmer woke. He rushed to stop them, only to be shot twice in the chest.
In his death throes he would have seen his killers and then his children standing over him, screaming and crying.
The attackers, who were drug addicts, simply disappeared into the night. Cillier’s murder, at Christmas, was barely reported in the local press. It was, after all, everyday news.
Death has stalked South Africa’s white farmers for years. The number murdered since the end of apartheid in 1994 has passed 3,000.
In neighbouring Zimbabwe, a campaign of intimidation that began in 2000 has driven more than 4,000 commercial farmers off their land, but has left fewer than two dozen dead.
The vulnerability felt by South Africa’s 40,000 remaining white farmers intensified earlier this month when Julius Malema, head of the African National Congress’s (ANC’s) youth league, opened a public rally by singing Dubula Ibhunu, or Shoot the Boer, an apartheid-era anthem, that was banned by the high court last week.
Malema’s timing could hardly have been worse. Last weekend in the remote farming community of Colenso, in KwaZulu-Natal, Nigel Ralfe, 71, a dairy farmer, and his wife Lynette, 64, were gunned down as they milked their cows. He was critically injured; she died.
That same day a 46-year-old Afrikaner was shot through his bedroom window as he slept at his farm near Potchefstroom. A few days later a 61-year-old was stabbed to death in his bed at a farm in Limpopo.
The resurrection of Dubula Ibhunu, defended by senior ANC officials as little more then a sentimental old struggle song, has been greeted with alarm by Tom Stokes, of the opposition Democratic Alliance. He said the ANC’s continued association with the call to kill Boers could not be justified.
“Any argument by the ANC that this song is merely a preservation of struggle literature rings hollow in the face of farming families who have lost wives, mothers and grandmothers,” he added.
He was supported by Anton Alberts of the right-wing Freedom Front Plus party: “Malema’s comments are creating an atmosphere that is conducive to those who want to commit murder. He’s an accessory to the wiping out of farmers in South Africa.”
Rossouw Cillier, Pieter’s brother, bristled as he pointed to the bullet holes in the panelled kitchen of the farmhouse near Ceres in the Western Cape. “They shot him through the fridge from the back door — the bullets came straight through here, into his heart. He never had a chance,” he said.
A successful apple and pear grower, he believes his community is living on borrowed time: “More white farmers have been killed than British soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. Yes, we are at war here.”
His brother’s farmhouse is now shuttered and empty. “I can’t spend time here. We’ll have to sell. This farm has been in our family for generations but it must go. Who’ll manage it? The children will never come back here. They held their own father as he died in front of them. Will they ever get over that?”
As we walked across the orchard, fruit destined for the shelves of Tesco and Sainsbury’s in the UK was still being picked. A tractor passed a 10ft cross erected in honour of the murdered farmer.
“It lights up at night,” Rossouw said. “My brother was a religious man. It’s all that’s left of him here.”
Across South Africa many farmers feel endangered. In Northern Province a tribute has been created beneath an enormous sign with the stark Afrikaans word “plaasmoorde” — farm killings. Thousands of white wooden crosses have been planted across a mountainside, one for each fallen farmer.
Recently the government’s department of rural development has been airing proposals to nationalise productive farmland as a “national asset”. Critics claim it is designed to deflect criticism from the ruling ANC’s failures.
“It’s a lot easier talking about nationalising farms than building decent houses, making clean water come out of taps or honouring promises to redistribute farm plots to millions of landless poor,” said a spokesman for AgriSA, the farmers’ union.
On the outskirts of Ceres there are few groceries in the township store — tins of pilchards, baked beans, some dried biscuits. A group of teenage boys sit on the burnt-out remains of a Ford Escort. This is where Cillier’s killers gathered, in a shebeen, a drinking club, where they fortified themselves with cheap hooch before they set off to rob him. They escaped with nothing.
According to Rossouw Cillier the most telling detail is that his brother was unarmed when they attacked. “If we brandish a weapon, we’ll go to prison, not them. What did they gain from this murder? It was an act as pointless as their lives.”
» » » » [Sunday Times.UK]
Zuma's 'heir' blamed for inciting attacks on South Africa's white farmers
Julius Malema, the firebrand leader of the ANC's Youth League, is thought by many to be the heir to Jacob Zuma's rule. He is also accused of stirring up his followers to attack white farmers in South Africa.
By Jane Flanagan in Cape Town, Telegraph.UK
Published: 7:00AM BST 28 Mar 2010
Nigel Ralfe was milking the cows on his South African farm as he had done every evening for half a century when four men came into the yard asking to buy milk. When the 69-year-old told them he had none to sell, he was shot at point blank range.
Bleeding from wounds to his neck and arm, Mr Ralfe was pistol-whipped before being marched to the farmhouse where his wife, Lynette, was bathing the couple's three granddaughters, all aged under five.
"I had no choice but tell my wife to come and unlock the back door which she did. As soon as she opened the door, they shot her three times. She didn't even have time to speak," Mr Ralfe told The Sunday Telegraph.
Mrs Ralfe, 63, staggered into her bedroom, bleeding heavily from the chest, and collapsed on her bed where she died soon after.
As the gang ransacked the house, the bewildered children emerged from the bathroom to find their grandmother dead in a bloodied bed.
"They were very confused and upset and kept asking me what was wrong with granny. I told them to go to the other bedroom, shut the door and stay in their beds. Luckily they listened to me," Mr Ralfe said, speaking from Doornkop farm, in the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal where his family has farmed for four generations.
Eventually, the attackers fled, taking only some binoculars, a phone and an old pistol.
Despite his appalling ordeal only two weeks ago, Mr Ralfe has returned to the 2,000 acre farm to "keep working, keep going - what else can I do?" But he now carries a gun.
In South Africa, it is safer to be a miner than a farmer. At least two white farmers or family members are murdered every week; last year alone, 120 were killed. With a radical new policy on land expropriation being mooted by the ruling African National Congress (ANC), talk in rural areas frequently turns to South Africa becoming the next Zimbabwe.
As one farmer said: "Zimbabwe? About a dozen white farmers were killed in Zimbabwe in the last decade in an unlawful government land grab. We lost 10 times that many just in 2009 – and we are in a country where farmers are allegedly at peace with the government. What does that say about our future?"
The attack on Doornkop farm would normally be expected to receive only modest media coverage such is the frequency of rural violence.
However, it was the third farm killing over a single weekend – all brutal and apparently without clear motives – which came only a few days after a high profile ANC politician repeatedly chanted "kill the boer" [farmer in Afrikaans], at a student rally.
The revival of the apartheid-era refrain by Julius Malema, the firebrand leader of the party's Youth League, immediately prompted outrage among opposition politicians and farmers groups who seized on the timing of Mrs Ralfe's murder.
The opposition Democratic Alliance's spokesman on safety issues, Sizwe Mchunu, said: "It is our belief that this senseless attack was incited by the proliferation of hate speech which is the hallmark of Julius Malema."
Demands that the President, Jacob Zuma, rein in his subordinate and force him to apologise went unheeded. Instead Mr Zuma claimed the chant "Kill the boer" to be a harmless "struggle song".
The Freedom Front Plus, a party protecting the rights of Afrikaners, said; “Mr Malema was nine-years-old when Mandela was freed. He was never really part of the 'struggle’.
"If he sang the song today, it has to be judged in the context of 2010 and the fact that farmers are being killed weekly.”
On Friday, the South African High Court ruled it illegal and unconstitutional to use the phrase, following an urgent application by a member of the public.
Anyone uttering the refrain can now be charged with a criminal offence.
The ANC expressed astonishment at the judgment and vowed to appeal against the banning of key phrases from its struggle song "The Cowards are Scared".
"We believe that this song like many other that were sung during the struggle days is part of our history and our heritage," the party said in a statement. "It will be very unfortunate, if through our courts, that our history and our heritage were to be outlawed.
Mr Malema has, so far, made no comment on the latest development in the controversy. Certainly, he seems confident of the unqualified support of the President, who has tipped him as a future leader of the country. Although aged only 29, Mr Malema's position as head of the ruling party's youth league gives him enormous sway within the movement.
Mr Zuma and Mr Malema have much in common; both are flamboyant, from poor rural backgrounds, achieved only a modest education and are widely loathed by the white population.
Often depicted by newspaper cartoonists wearing nappies, Mr Malema is a quintessential example of the new ANC elite. Described as a "tenderpreneur" by the local media, his lifestyle – he has three homes and a fleet of luxury vehicles - comes under regular scrutiny as do his alleged financial links to companies which have been awarded lucrative government contracts. However, he has never been subject to a police investigation and no allegations of corruption have been proved against him.
The controversial chant has now become a focus for a wide range of fears and resentments felt by the white population. In particular, relations between the black government and the minority Afrikaners, who number just three million out of a population of 50 million, are at their worst since the end of apartheid.
It is also an unwanted reminder of the past as the country tries to portray a successful, modern image in the run-up to this year's World Cup, held in Africa for the first time.
In much the same way, Mr Zuma's recent state visit to London attracted headlines about which of his four wives the polygamous President would bring on the trip.
He has tried to defuse the latest controversy by meeting Afrikaner leaders for dinner but still refused to criticise Mr Malema.
A few days later, the government admitted a degree of nervousness, claiming that the growing hostility towards the youth leader was becoming dangerous.
"As the ANC, we draw the conclusion that it is meant to incite, instigate and mobilise some people to harm and even lead to the execution of the ANC YL president," an ANC statement said.
» » » » [Telegraph.UK]