Boers, take heart: your cousins are coming to the rescue. Dutch politicians want to help fight discrimination and racially-motivated crimes against South Africa’s Afrikaners, the descendents of Dutch and other European settlers. It’s an about-face for a country that once championed the struggle against apartheid.
“We are very grateful. This is good news. We know that for a long time the African National Congress had the sympathy of the Dutch government.” says farmer Chris van Zyl, speaking from his home near Pretoria. “But what we are experiencing here is racial discrimination in reverse.”
One widely publicised type of violence is attacks against farmers, a large number of whom are of Afrikaner descent.
Statistics from the South African police show that the national murder rate is falling. The Transvaal Agricultural Union figures indicate a drop in farm murders as well.
Overall murders nationwide
Whites make only 4% of the total population.
Source: South African Police
Murders on farms
Total of more than 3000 farmers murdered. Total murder of whites since 1994: Roughly 70 000 or much higher. More than 20 000 hate crimes committed across South Africa in towns, cities, or small holdings against white Afrikaners or whites in general, yet not one single incident acknowledged by the black ANC nationalist government! The brutality of these murders is consistent similar to a war situation. Anyone that is familiar with war situations and hate crimes, will immediately recognise that this is not “just crime” as stated by the South African (ANC) government because it involves extreme sadistic violence .
What is the difference between crime and a hate crime?
The issue of racism is back in the spotlight thanks to Julius Malema, a prominent young ANC politician who was convicted of hate speech last year for singing Kill the Boer, a protest song that became popular during the anti-Apartheid struggle.
Earlier this month, the ANC disciplinary committee suspended Malema from party activity for five years.
The conservative Christian SGP party has put forward a motion asking Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal to help stop discrimination and racially-motivated crimes against the Afrikaners. According to the SGP, Rosenthal has “embraced” the idea, which is also backed by Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party. The Freedom Party has been rallying support for the Boers amid what they call “a genocide” and a mass exodus of Afrikaners from South Africa.
“By our conservative estimate there have been 2,700 attacks on white farmers since 1990,” says Van Zyl, assistant general manager of the Pretoria-based Transvaal Agricultural Union. The farmers’ group has been keeping statistics on attacks against the Afrikaners for decades. But are these necessarily racially-motivated crimes? “None of the perpetrators are white Europeans,” he says.
The move in parliament is a turning point for the Netherlands, which began supporting the anti-apartheid struggle in the 1960s. Bloody repression by the white colonial regime had turned Dutch public opinion against the Afrikaners. The Hague developed ties with the African National Congress (ANC) and relations remained warm after the fall of apartheid in 1994.
Bart Luirink, editor-in-chief of ZAM Magazine, believes the SGP move is based on a growing sense of nationalism. Conservative Dutch Christians have always felt a close affinity with the Afrikaners, he says. “The horrors of apartheid meant few people dared to express this.” But this has changed, with the influential Freedom Party waving the nationalist banner.
Luirink sees in this shift “a longing for the return of apartheid.” He claims the Freedom Party and SGP both back a “Greater Netherlands” ideal, based on blood ties and shared linguistic roots. According to this view, Flemish-speaking Belgians and Afrikaans-speaking South Africans are part of a wider Dutch nation. The international white extremist group Stormfront “has already reacted with enthusiasm,” Luirink writes in his blog.
“The Dutch measure will be hard to explain to the South African government,” says Ineke van Kessel, Leiden-based historian and former journalist who covered the anti-apartheid struggle. “Why so much attention for discrimination and violence against Afrikaners when this is not even a major problem?” she asks. Luirink agrees, calling reports of a massive exodus of Boers from South Africa a myth. He expects the move in Dutch parliament to harm ties with the government in Pretoria.
A look at the statistics gathered by the Transvaal Agricultural Union bears them out, at least in terms of violent crime. Violence against white farmers tailed off in recent years and has dropped sharply so far this year, although a number of attacks in recent weeks have grabbed headlines.
But some white South Africans welcome the sudden attention from their distant “relatives.” Author and academic Hermann Giliomee, a sharp critic of the current ANC government, says it is about time European countries put pressure on Pretoria. “Helping to stop discrimination and crime can’t be wrong,” he says, speaking by telephone from Stellenbosch.
He says help from outside is needed to challenge the overwhelming political dominance of the ANC. And he mentions the draconian “secrecy act” just passed by the South African parliament as an example of the party’s excessive power. But even Giliomee doesn’t see why discrimination and crimes against Afrikaners are suddenly on the agenda. “There have been some farm attacks in the Western Cape which is a new phenomenon in this area. But overall, I am not aware of a spike in such crimes.”