Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Price of Black Life 3

I have written here before about white farmers who murder Black people on farms across South Africa. This is the third installment of a phenomenon that has hardly disappeared since apartheid was ‘officially' scrapped in 1994.

Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng yesterday handed down sentences to three white men who were found guilty of torturing and murdering a Black man, Welile Motawane, in July 2003. The murderers names are: Ken Broodryk, Frederick Dunn and Schalk Nel. Broodryk was sentenced to 14 years and Dunn and Nell were sentenced to 10 years.

Yep that is right. In the post-apartheid era white farmers can still torture a Black man for hours and leave him for dead without too much of a prison sentence. Obviously, aspiring white murderers need not worry that they will spend more than a decade or so behind bars if they need to kill a Black person.

Black life is still very cheap in these terms.

The news details of this case are somewhat sketchy. As usual, we know nothing about the victim or his family. What we do know is that his former employer, Ken Broodryk, found him walking on a part of his farm reserved for "whites only".

Yes you read that right.

Broodryk divided his property (Sunset Lodge) into apartheid era categories. Motawane for some unspecified reason was in the "whites only" section of the property when Broodryk began beating him.

Like all ‘good old boys', Broodryk called his white partners, Dunn and Nel, to join in the ceremonial pounding.

The three musketeers then stripped Motawane of all his clothes, tied him up, and beat him mercilessly for 4 hours. What the hell is it with whites and nakedness? Damn!

Anyway, somewhere in-between the apartheid love-fest, Broodryk and his boys poured petrol on Motawane and put a car tire around him. I do not know whether they actually attempted to set their victim or the tire alight.

You may remember that during the 80/90s the practice of lighting a tire around a victim was referred to as "necklacing". It was a kind of vigilante lynching used against alledged aparthed informants.

After satisfying their racist urges, the Herrenvolk trio drove to a local police station to lay a charge of robbery against Motawane. They were told by the police to take him to a hospital. Oh yeah, that is real SAPS ‘serve and protect' genius at work. Tell the white men who have just beat the life out of a Black man to drive him to a hospital.

So, instead of taking Motawane to a hospital, Broodryk and his boys dropped him off at his house. It is there that Motawane died from the wounds and beating he sustained.

Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng, a Black judge in the Rustenburg Circuit Court, said that the three racists were "callous and calculated". The judge nontheless found that the murder was not premeditated and he pointed out that the three showed no signs of remorse.

Why should they show remorse?


Murdering Black folk, and 'Others', is almost the 'premeditated' birth-right of whiteness. These folk grew up in communities that sanctified white life above all else. Black people are bestial and disposable at best.

Motawane's fate in these circumstances is a scripted one. He is a faceless vessel to most whites. He symbolizes the millions who stand in the way of white excess as it vents its frustration with the supposed changes since 1994.

And if you think that white South Africa is just lamenting Motawane's murder, well think again. Those fools are mostly lamenting the state of materialism in the country. Blacks are a mere irritant to the wants of post-apartheid whites. They represent nothing more than thieves waiting to pounce on whites and their stuff. Why do you think that Broodryk went to lay a charge of robbery against Motawane?

What this case illustrates is the central dilemma that confronts meaningful change in South Africa. It is the issue of land and the overly oppressive presence of white ownership. Try as hard as the new governors want, coming in-between the tense relationship between settler and settled is a futile strategy. There can be no meaningful peace until the land is justly redistributed.

Until then, white farmers will continue to kill Black workers in a grossly unbalanced system that cannot, and will not, respect the life of any Black person. For this reason, I expect that there will be many more sad installments detailing the cheap "Price of Black Life" in South Africa.

May God rest Welile Motawane until that final reckoning. We are not free just because we voted!


Jubin George said...

Hi ridwan,

Chanced upon your blog a few days back, and I have read most of your articles. Saying shallow words like nice, or bold would only be an underestimation.

I'm from India, and I read that you were in India for a while. The issues here are not same, but very similar. Senseless atrocities, like the one you have described, are still happen here in the name of cast. A rose (or thorn rather) by another name, that's all the difference. It's much more complex and layered here - it's not so black and white. Excuse the pun.

But what will bring the true freedom and equality? How can everyone learn the simplest of the facts that you have displayed on the top of your blog - "there is only one race, the human race."

It can come only through building an unshakable selfesteem in the oppressed. And it needs clear change in the power equations - not just political, but economic and academic too. And that's where the relevance of blogs like this is important. Keep the fire burning.

Eugene said...


Ridwan said...

Hi Jubin George:

I am honoured that you have read through my posts. Welcome my friend. I have also taken a look at your blog and can't wait to get stuck into reading more of your posts.

Wow. I quickly read some of your post on Gandhi. Though I am not a big fan of some of Gandhi's positions I look forward to digesting more of your thoughts.

I am reding some on Ambedkar right now. And I agree that there are great similarities between race and caste. In fact, race is a simplified form of caste in theory - well as you suggest.

I was in Bangalore at Christmas 2006 and then New Year 2007. I have fond memories but need to spend more time there to really appreciate the depth.

I started my blog at Jawaharlal Nehru University. It was a way to keep in touch with folks all over.

Since then I have used it to write and think aloud. It is very different that the stuffy environment of Academia.

And I dare say that more folks have read my posts than anything I have produced for academia.

Anyway, please do keep in touch here. I will do the same over at your blog.

Thanks for taking out time to make my day!

I trust you are having a great day or evening as I write.

Peace and struggle,

Jubin George said...

hi Ridwan,

Thanks for visiting my blog, and reading it. I'm afraid you'll find my blog bit silly. It's true, I rarely try to write strongly about real issues.

As for Gandhi, he was always criticised for his 'soft'stand, which was even interpreted at times as supportive to the oppressor! And I believe he was misunderstood almost all the while.

If you have time, please read another post there on drug testing. The link is on the top-hit list on the right hand side.

Peace and struggle! That's some good greeting :)

Ridwan said...

Will definitely do that Jubin George.

Sometimes "silly" is good hey ... I noticed that you got folks to think creatively in some of the comments.

And you have what seems like a consistent following. Good on you bra.

Be well