Posted on April 9, 2010

Race Outbursts Sign of Unhealed Wounds in S Africa

Michelle Paul, Google News, April 8, 2010

A white politician stormed out of a live TV debate about race relations and a black leader of the ruling African National Congress threw racial epithets at a journalist he kicked out of a news conference.

The events are just part of the fallout in South Africa after the slaying of a notorious white supremacist. Eugene Terreblanche, leader of the once-feared AWB paramilitary group, was bludgeoned to death on his farm April 3. The acrimonious aftermath reveals strained race relations 16 years after apartheid collapsed and Nelson Mandela became president, urging all races to come together.

“I am not finished with you,” AWB Secretary General Andre Visagie shouted as he stormed off the local TV talk show, pointing a finger at a black female analyst. Video of the Wednesday night blowup, which erupted after the analyst continually interrupted Visagie and made hand gestures in front of his face, was posted on YouTube and quickly got hundreds of hits.


Julius Malema, leader of the ANC Youth League, held a news conference in which he sang about beating up white farmers, defying a new directive from his own party to stop singing racially polarizing songs. Some whites have blamed Terreblanche’s murder on a song Malema had previously belted out, urging that white farmers be shot.

{snip} But the aftermath of the Terreblanche killing, which was allegedly motivated by a wage dispute, shows that rage and wounds remain raw among many. Some residents of a black township near Terreblanche’s farm even hailed Terreblanche’s alleged killers as heroes.

Terreblanche’s extremist Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging movement, better known as the AWB, wanted to create all-white republic within South Africa.

“It does really highlight the fact that race relations in our country are an unresolved issue,” said Chris Maroleng, the journalist who was host of Wednesday night’s TV show. “Eugene Terreblanche’s death has opened up a lot of unhealed wounds and unresolved issues in terms of race.”


Visagie had become angry when analyst Lebohang Pheko kept interrupting him, asking “Is it still you versus us?” and whether he cared about starving South African children or abused farm laborers. Visagie tore the microphone from his jacket and threw it. Maroleng came between him and Pheko and warned: “Touch me on my studio and you will be in trouble.”


BBC television journalist Jonah Fisher said Malema himself lives in Sandton. Malema’s eyes got big and he blew up.

“Don’t come here with that white tendency . . . undermining blacks!” Malema shouted. He insulted Fisher’s manhood, called for security officers to throw the reporter out and said: “Go out, bastard! You bloody agent.”

Malema has found an ear among poor black South Africans disenchanted that their right to vote has not been matched by access to decent housing, jobs, good education and health care. South Africa is the richest country in Africa, yet the ANC has been unable to translate that into better lives for the people.

Only a small black elite has become enormously rich since apartheid ended. Studies show the majority of blacks are worse off financially than they were under the white government.

“Race still matters very much in South Africa . . . particularly the coincidence between race and inequality, race and poverty and race and unemployment, with the black youth experiencing all those disproportionately,” said Justin Sylvester, a researcher at the Institute for Democracy in South Africa.

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