Thursday, 01 February 2007

South Africa's Secret Murders

As the murder of white land owners in South Africa continues, farming in the country proves to be a dangerous profession, as this editorial will attempt to illustrate.

South Africa, a country with a population of 43,800,000 is situated at the bottom of the African continent and covers an area of 1,233,404 sq km. Every morning, farmers wake up to do the same job as farmers in every other country. But being a white farmer in South Africa is one of the most dangerous professions in the world. In the last 10 years, around 1,750 white African farmers have met violent ends at the hands of black gangs. We live in a society where we like to believe we are morally correct and do not condone racism. However, as soon as we are faced with the deaths of nearly 2000 white farmers in South, even the best of us can’t help but wonder why so little has been done to stop this and why it hasn’t been plastered all over the newspapers at our breakfast table.

The largest road in Africa, the N1, runs from Cape Town right across the country to the border. The new tarmac and polished buildings along the roadside are proof that a post-apartheid South Africa can work without the violence and disaster of its surrounding countries. However, as you reach central South Africa, it is said you can spot a cross in the hillside. This cross is formed by hundreds of smaller crosses placed in neat white lines – the bodies of white South African farmers. These are accompanied by two smaller hills on either side, themselves the bearers of hundreds more graves.

The attacks are executed by gangs, some of them offering $250 for the murder of a white farmer. No one knows where the gangs get their funding, but it’s been suggested it can be traced back to South African politicians. Every white African farmer is a target and often babies and the elderly are among the victims who are subjected to extreme violence, torture and rape. It’s no wonder to the white farmers in the northern regions of the country that often nothing is stolen – they know these are racist revenge attacks and as a result the Boers, the white tribe of Africa, fear their extinction.

Faces are broken with steel poles, eyes are lost and bodies are burnt. Children are raped and skulls are smashed but the police take hours to arrive at the scene, and when they do appear, they make no attempt to search for the assailants. A book detailing all the incidents of attacks and assaults from survivors was released, but never made it overseas and was suggested to have been bought up from the bookshelves by the Government.

It is true however, that South Africa on the whole suffers from extreme violence on a daily basis. It has the highest recorded per capita murder rate in the world and, although the majority of deaths involve black victims due to the fact that they make up 75% of the country’s population, the probability of a white farmer’s death is still up to ten times greater than in any other profession.

In the western world, we tend to turn a blind eye to obscenities and events taking place in other countries. It never affects us. We can still watch the same great shows on TV, have the same meal each night and afterwards, sleep in the same soft bed and dream of tomorrow, when we can be in comfort again. We live in a society where our neighbours are friendly and our police take care of us instead of ignoring the deaths of thousands. Our governments don’t want to help these other countries unless there’s something in it for them - it’s just not worth the cost. Should we really be expected to die to save a country that’s done nothing for us? Should we have to pay for another government’s mistakes? Of course not, but should over 400 farmers and their families have to face attack and torture and a further 200 face death every year because they’re white?

As nations blessed with luck, we owe the people of South Africa and other countries alike the chance to enjoy life the way we do; there just isn’t an easy way to do that.

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