Genocide in action! This is the judgement from various groups, individuals and even some academics in regards to the violent situation in South Africa. In support of this; farm murders become the standard bearer. I hope it is possible to take a step back and ask a few critical questions? Does the crime statistics support such a view? What is the emotion behind the statement? Can we live from another perspective?

South Africa has an unnatural high occurrence of murder. Annually an approximate 26 000 people are murdered of which up to 200 is farmers. It is difficult to find the number for white people being murdered, but I venture to say that the vast majority of these cases are black people, especially woman and children. A question that begs to be answered: What is the relation of murder on black people to white people (country demographic is 9:1) and how is this influenced by the race of the murderers.

It is unfortunately also true that South Africa has an unnaturally high occurrence of extreme poverty and that the gap between rich and poor is constantly growing. This source of this reality cannot be put squarely on the shoulders of white South Africans, as the poverty levels among them is also on the increase, nor are they innocent bystanders who is completely innocent. It would also be irresponsible to claim that all crime stems from poverty or to claim that there is no link at all.

The context of South Africa therefore is one where murder per capita is high and poverty per capita is high. It is also a country where white people, in general, are still (percentage wise) much better off than black people. It would also seem that crime, in general but not conclusively, flows from poor(er) to rich or in some cases just richer.

It would therefore seem that people who have more, is more likely to be targets of crime irrespective of their race, colour or creed. This realization leads to a certain amount of fear. Fear then becomes the foundation from which such persons live, rationalize and argue. Instead of focussing on one of the real issues behind crime, poverty and an unjust socio-economic system, race is used as the explanation behind all crime experienced by one group and at the same time limiting the perpetrators to one “opposing” race. Critical questions are left untouched for example how many white people are murdered by other white people, how many children are murdered by their parents etc.

Fear also features in another way. It might just be that there exists a collective fear that the black people of the country will attempt (and succeed) in something that some white people wished for in days go by; domination and possibly even the eradication of the other. Coenraad Scheepers said in 1852 “[Whites] and blacks cannot live together, unless the black man is in a state of subjection to the white”. Hendrik Verwoerd echoed this in 1948 when he referred to South Africa as a “white man’s country where he must remain the master”. I am certain that at various birthday parties everyday Malema-type pronouncements are being made by both extremist flanks of society.

It seems to me the time has come that we look our brother and sister South Africans, across the racial and cultural boundaries, in the eye, ask what is really wrong, start addressing these wrongs, acknowledge our feelings and ask for forgiveness where necessary and start to live from the promise that is our land and diversity, and not from the prejudices of the colour of our skin or formulation of our creed.

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