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Koos Kombuis

Steve and Malema - a mouthful of sushi…

2011-02-21 10:49
It was late afternoon on Friday when I arrived on the Beyerskloof wine estate outside Stellenbosch on business. I was surprised when I found everyone there in a dejected and subdued mood.

"There was a murder two farms from here early this morning,” the farmer informed me with an ashen face. “He was a good friend of mine." I had known Beyers for many years, and I’d never seen him in such an agitated state. His usually tanned face was white with rage.

While waiting for my business to be concluded, I spoke to some of the workers on Beyers' farm. They were all in shock.

This is probably a pointless chunk of information, but Beyers Truter – who happens to be my sponsor - is a white Boland farmer who is also a member of the ANC and a staunch believer in racial equality. He is a well-loved icon of the local farming community, admired by blacks and whites alike. The murder of his friend had had a deep impact on him. Farm killings are not yet common in the Western Cape, never had been. Not since the time of the Vryburgers.

When I drove home an hour later, I was still shaking. And I found myself thinking of all sorts of things.

Steve and Bono
Among other things, I found myself thinking of the (now forgotten) epic battle between Steve Hofmeyr and Bono. (Well, if nothing else, it had been an epic battle from Steve's point of view.) One thing was clear in my mind for the first time: Steve had been utterly sincere in his desperate attempts to focus the attention of the media on the issue of farm killings. I understood, for the first time, that, by lashing out against Bono, he was also trying to turn the attention of the international on this. The whole stunt backfired on him, because Steve simply seemed to be suffering from delusions of grandeur.

Whatever negative things one may say about Steve – and I can think of quite a few – I have known him long enough to believe how truly passionate this man is for the cause of the Afrikaner.

Yet, the picture still didn't add up. I thought of Julius Malema, who claimed that he had the right to sing the song "Kill the Boer" in public because it was a historical struggle song. Then I thought of the ANCYL’s reply to that famous column by Moeletsi Mbeki, in which they said that, if Tunisia-like protests ever happen here, it will not be against the ruling party, but against "the white monopoly capitalists". (Try saying "white monopoly capitalists" with a mouthful of sushi! It’s quite a tongue-twister.)

Politically explosive

Point is, with that implied threat of violence against whites, the ANCYL admitted, by implication, that, when they sing "Kill the Boer", they are not merely reminiscing about the good old days of the Struggle. They mean exactly what they say. Or some of them, at least.

I realised, to my horror, that though both Steve and Malema were equally sincere, they were both making exactly the same mistake. And a very dangerous mistake, in such politically explosive times such as these.

The word "Boer" has never been a synonym for farmers as such. Back then, it was a word to describe Afrikaners. And farm killings, today, have nothing to do with race. The man who had been killed that morning – Alberto Costa – was not an Afrikaner. Even if all the farmers in South Africa had been black, or Chinese, or Cuban, the mapantsulas would have targeted farms. Because farms are easy targets. Because farmers have guns to steal. Because attacking farms is the trendy thing to do for criminal elements in our country.

Emotional reactions are understandable. But with talk like this, we are moving further and further away from a true revolution of all South Africans against a corrupt government, and closer and closer to ethnic war.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have Egypt than Bosnia…        

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