My first installment began: "In a South African town called Thabazimbi a 39 year old white farmer, Marchel Nel, testified in court that he shot and killed 11-year-old Sello Pete after mistaking him for a dog. "I didn't do it on purpose," was his defense and the court agreed. Nel has just been found guilty of culpable homicide and fined R20 000 or five years in prison."
My second installment began: "Jewell Crossberg (52), a white farmer in Musina (South Africa), shot and killed a Black Zimbabwean national, Jealous Dube (29), on his Limpopo farm in 2004. Crossberg does not deny shooting Dube. Instead, he argues that he mistook Dube for a baboon when he fired."
My third installment began: "I have written here before about white farmers who murder Black people on farms across South Africa ...
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 present post (the fourth) draws heavily on an article written in the Sunday Times by Bongani Mthethwa. Please read the article to capture what the author intended.
What I want to list here is the ongoing racism that has white farmers murdering, and seriously assaulting Black folk. Mthethwa lists the following cases in his article:
(1) When Simphiwe Bophela (above) was just eleven years old she was chased by a farmer in a 4x4 vehicle when he found her collecting firewood on his farm. He chased her and she fell into a veld-fire where she suffered, third-degree burns on her legs, torso, neck and face. A case was filed and statements have been taken but that is about all. The farmer has not been charged;
(2) Bongiwe Xhakaza, was allegedly killed by a farmer while collecting wood; the farmer got off with a R4000 fine;
(3) Jabulisile Danisa from Hlobane was allegedly shot while collecting water, by a farmer who claimed to have mistaken her for a bird. Nothing came of her case;
(4) Piet Zungu from Gluckstadt was allegedly beaten up by farmers and left for dead after being suspected of cattle theft. A case was opened, but never got under way;
(5) Muntu Gumbi, 87, was allegedly kicked so badly by farmers after his cattle grazed on a farmer's land that his bladder ruptured and he lost the ability to speak. He couldn't testify against his attackers and they went unpunished;
(6) Bongani Ndlovu and Thulani Sithole were kidnapped by two white farmers who alledged they had stolen cattle. The farmers, Jan George van der Wath (58) of Goedehoop and Jacobus Johannes Uys, (56) took Ndlovu and Sithole to an army base near Gluckstadt where they were seriously assaulted, and suffocated with plastic bags. Ndlovu later committed suicide, saying in a note that he had done so because he had been punished for a crime he didn't commit. The white magistrate, Johan de Bruin, demanded that the case be heard in Afrikaans, despite the fact that the prosecution explained that the defendants, and others, could not understand Afrikaans. Last month, the magistrate found the two white farmers not guilty.
(7) Last week a Pretoria farmer was arrested for allegedly injecting his employee with medicine meant for pigs after he asked for time off to see a doctor. Farm labourer Rams Madibogo (23) from Atteridgeville, alleged that the farmer's friends had offered him R4000 to drop the case.
(8) A Limpopo farmer, Johan van Niekerk (69) was arrested and charged with the murder of Richard Mkhari, whose decomposed body was found tied to a tree with a rope on Vygeboom farm. He had been missing since he went hunting on the farm and Van Niekerk had been charged with his kidnapping.
Thirteen plus years after the election of Mandela, we are into our second decade of democracy, yet Black life is still close to worthless. There are literally hundreds more of these cases in post-apartheid South Africa.
I have not forgotten Mark Scott-Crossley, the white farmer, who beat and then threw his former Black employee, Nelson Chisale, into a lion's enclosure in 2004. The half-eaten body of Chisale was found and Scott-Crossley was sentenced to life imprisonment in September 2005. Earlier this month, Scott-Crossley asked the the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) to review his case and sentence.
I don't have to tell you what I think the SCA should do with his appeal.
There is need for a serious and far-reaching investigation into this human rights atrocity. The South African Human Rights Commission is moving to investigate the conditions that give rise to the kinds of brutality listed above. Public hearings are set to take place on the 18th - 20th September 2007, in Johannesburg.
I hope that the connections to the judicial system and police are not overlooked. Racism in these contexts is still a system of white abuse, and privileges. The majoritarian color of the South African government is merely incidental to that system.
And we are not free.