The Boers, the descendants of the Dutch who once emigrated to South Africa, are in a precarious position. They make up 3 million people, 125,000 of whom live in rural households, and this group is particularly hard hit. The South African government has been trying for years to take away their land and transfer it to blacks.
To make things worse, Boer farmers are beset with ruthless violence. Last year, President Donald Trump announced via Twitter that he had instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to take note of the worrying situation in South Africa. He explicitly referred to the forced expropriation of agricultural land and the murder of white farmers, also known as Plaas murders (hereditary murders).
Mainstream media downplays the events
The media did all in their power to prove President Trump was wrong. A striking and often quoted piece is that of a Dutch journalist and South-African correspondent Bram Vermeulen. In a recent article, he tries to show that the Plaas murders are not as bad as they are made out to be, suggesting that facts contradict Trump’s claims. Unfortunately for Vermeulen, Trump’s worries are vindicated by reality. Rather, it is the sources on which Vermeulen and many Western reporters rely that are not trustworthy.
The mainstream media draw on the data from AgriSA, a white farmers trade union. AgriSA in turn relies on the crime statistics of the South African police, the SAPS. The SAPS figures show a declining trend for both attacks and murders.
What is notable about the SAPS statistics is the lack of data for the period from the second half of 2007 to the first half of 2010. In 2007, the SAPS announced that it would stop reporting on the Plaas murders. (ER: see the gap for this period in the right-hand graph.) In 2010, this decision was reversed.
The SAPS uses a broad brush in categorizing farm attacks. It also gathers information on robberies, where the number of fatalities is usually lower. This makes it difficult to determine the exact proportion of politically or racially motivated attacks against the farmers.
Unreliable police statistics
Even more serious is the fact that the SAPS does not report all the murders. A meticulous analysis of the data on the South African website PoliticsWeb shows that not all is registered. A stratagem is applied with which the data taken from a province with a relatively low number of homicides are compared with news items about Plaas murders in general.
The number of reports on Plaas murders in the South African press outstrips the total number of 47 murders reported by the SAPS in 2017/2018. Whether due to sloppiness or deliberate censorship, the SAPS statistics are unreliable.
Figures from the Farmers’ Organisation
The Transvaal Agricultural Union (TAU) also keeps records of the Plaas murders and limits this to the white Boer population. The TAU reports continuously and consistently, and bases its figures on traceable incidents. The picture painted by the TAU differs considerably from that presented by the SAPS.
The TAU figures show a clear increase in the number of violent attacks against farmers. Notably, the number of murders has risen less sharply in recent years since the 2004 peak. This is mainly attributed to the security measures taken by agricultural farmers.
The mainstream media claim that “the number of murders of white farmers in the past twenty years has never been so low”. The TAU figures show that this is not true. However, there is another factor that has not been taken into account. In the past twenty years, the number of farmers with a farm has roughly halved. Despite the decline in the number of potential targets, the number of attacks has increased and the number of murders has remained roughly the same.
South Africa ranks high in the world’s homicide rankings. With a score of 34 murders per 100,000 citizens per year, the country takes 11th place. European countries have around 0.7 murders per 100,000 civilians per year, Japan 0.28 murders, so South Africa has a 48 times-higher homicide rate than the countries of the Old Continent. In other words, the head of a Boer household is at a 3.2 times higher risk than any other South African.
One-sixth of the murders are accompanied by horrific violence. Reports in the press talk about nailing feet, stabbing with forks, boiling alive, poking with a hot rod, and so on. The torments are indescribable. For a good picture of the human drama behind the Plaas murders, watch Lauren Southern’s documentary “Farmlands”.
Imagine living in a medium-sized city with 200,000 inhabitants. Every year, 216 of your fellow citizens are murdered. 36 of these people are killed by torture. The same thing happens the following year and again the following year. The impact of this human suffering on a community cannot be overstated.
After the fall of apartheid, it seemed for a moment that South Africa would enter a time of multicultural harmony. However, a large part of the country’s policy is based on “equality of income”, the idea that everyone should end up with the same result, regardless of origin, talent or effort. This may sound innocent at first glance, but in practice it has led to deep-rooted racism.
For example, the South African ANC-dominated government requires companies to have a maximum of 8% white employees, with the 8% being a reflection of the white population in South Africa. This leads to problems for companies because knowledge and skills are mainly found among the white population. To comply with the stiff quotas, employers are forced to dismiss white staff, which translates into personal drama of particular white people.
At party meetings, members of the Economic Freedom Fighters, holding 25 of the 400 seats in parliament and headed by Julius Malema, shamelessly chant the song ‘Kill the Boer. Incitement to violence and hatred in its purest form.
White people are said to still own almost two thirds (72%) of the country. This is based on the data also used by the EFF and President Cyril Ramaphosa. This percentage is incorrect for three different reasons.
- First, only private land ownership is included in the calculation. If you look at the whole country, it turns out that it is not 72%, but 22%.
- Secondly, the quality of the agricultural land differs enormously from place to place. The soil in the west is dry and difficult to cultivate, that in the east is fertile.
- Areas in the west are seen as four times less valuable. White farmers are strongly represented in the west.
A lot of land transfer from whites to blacks has already taken place. This transfer is not included in the figures. The percentage of transferred land is about 28%. Especially valuable land in the east has been transferred from white to black hands.
The South African government has convinced itself that white-owned land stands in the way of economic Valhalla. Following Zimbabwe’s example, President Ramaphosa, an ANC member, is working on a law whereby expropriation can take place without compensation.
Many farmers see the threat of the upcoming law as a sword of Damocles hanging over their heads. In combination with the terror of the Plaas murders, some people prefer to accept the meagre compensation of the current expropriation policy now, concluding that something is better than nothing.
The Western media dismiss the genuine concerns about the Plaas murder as a fable fabricated by the extreme right. Two spokespersons of the Boers, Kriel and Roets, are dubbed by the Rector of the University of Witwatersrand, Adam Habib, as Hitlers. The dehumanisation of which Habib is guilty is a good example of the way in which South Africa is dealing with its white farmers. Framing the other side as inferior and employing mendacity makes blacks think that you don’t need to talk or pay attention to whites. It’s as simple as that.
Stop being silent
South Africa, once a local power to be reckoned with, is sliding down in the world’s rankings measuring the standard of living. Its economy is mired. The government prefers to look for traitors in its own country rather than to put its own house in order. The enemy has been identified as the white farmers, who are associated with the former apartheid system. It is believed that it is enough to take the land away from the whites to remedy the economic regression. That this is an illusion is obvious. Clearly, the Boer is no longer welcome in South Africa. The government of their country of birth has turned against them.
It is high time for Western authorities and media to stop keeping quiet about the Plaas murders. This targeted wave of violence is not a “fabrication of the right”. Western governments should follow President Trump and express their concern about the structural violence against white farmers and insist on researching a humane and constitutional solution.