Letter: The saga of Senekal

My grandmother was born in Senekal. There were a few English-speaking families in the area at the time. She however married an Afrikaner. He was one of those men whom the whole world admired at the turn of the penultimate century, those brave Afrikaners who fought the British Empire to try and maintain their sovereignty, their culture and, most of all, their integrity. There are not too many of their type around today, especially when one reads the narrative in a Beeld article (23.10.20) of Mr. Nick Serfontein who calls himself a megaboer. Clearly he’s one of those farmers who has made a lot of money and who was perhaps ambiguous in his evaluation of the devious sellout of his people twenty five or so years ago based on a false promise; he perhaps hoped that by not rocking the boat, he and his chums would be left alone to continue unhindered with their prosperous enterprises.   But many of these big farmers seriously miscalculated: the new ANC government were never able to sustain themselves, either out of power or with power. Their parasitical policies would lead to the ruin of South Africa, and there is not much Mr. Serfontein can do about this fact.. His famous Thuma Mina letter to President Ramaphosa in May 2018 offering to help with “transformation” in empowering emerging farmers was brilliant in concept, and much of what he suggested was implemented. But in his current Beeld  article he complains bitterly about the lack of political will by the government to attain meaningful black farm ownership and success. Then there’s the crime and the farm murders and the stock theft and the veld fires and the threats of land expropriation ……  Yet strangely, he grumbles about the “rough” types who came to Senekal on Friday 16 October and who were not necessarily farmers, and the bikers and other so-called extremists who continue to give the Afrikaner “a bad name”. He is upset about the Afrikaner’s image in the world! What a priority!

A friend and I visited Senekal on that Friday, eager to obtain a seat at the courthouse trial of two men who allegedly brutally  murdered a young farmer who caught them stealing cattle. His mutilated body was tied to a fence post. This gruesome act triggered something within all of us: a revulsion about some of the people with whom we share this country. It was reminiscent of the Mau Mau terror tactics used against the British in pre-independence Kenya. We walked towards the court, only to be told by police that entrance was reserved for “family members only”. (Later we saw pictures of the Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFF) leader Julius Malema sitting next to Minister of Police Bheke Cele in the court. So much for police impartiality!)

Virtually every street in the town was blocked off with barbed wire to accommodate the EFF. A number of stages had been set up for EFF speakers at various street venues from where massive loudspeakers head-splitting music blared and which carried raucous speeches from EFF officials. No other political party or grouping appeared to have applied for a speaking corner in town. Where were the Afrikaner groups ready to speak out for the farmers in response to the EFF’s noisy presence? We moved within the EFF crowd and heard their officials lambaste whites, racist Afrikaners, and the ANC government.  Calls to “kill the boer, kill the farmer, take the land,  expropriate without compensation” were relentless. “Whites have stolen our land” they yelled at the crowds. “Amandla” (power) was met with a thousand  “Awethu’s” (to us!).   Malema then appeared to hysterical screams and shouting. It was hot but his followers stood their ground under the beating sun. They were mostly underfed and poorly clothed – South Africa’s have-nots!  But EFF officials on the stage were all well-fed. No masks were in sight, and social distancing was someone else’s slogan!

The speeches were about hatred and victimhood. The EFF rhetoric fed into the poverty and the homelessness and the dreams that would never come true. There was no mention of plans for jobs, or fixing the infrastructure, or possible housing for the dispossessed in the red berets’ speeches. It was all about avarice, resentment and the urging their followers to take what is theirs by right! In effect, the EFF had simply taken over Senekal. Businesses closed down. Large transport trucks on their way to somewhere else had to be deviated to side roads. Dustbin rubbish was strewn over the streets, and cement parking posts were broken and dumped in the middle of the roads. Thousands of EFF supporters milled around: no shop was open. There was nothing to drink and nothing to eat for the crowd that had waited so long in the unremitting heat for the messiah. He and his friends had temporarily disappeared to have lunch somewhere.

In the Beeld  article, Mr. Serfontein said we mustn’t take any notice of Julius: we must ignore the EFF. We mustn’t stoop to their level, it was implied. This attitude is very much shared by many liberal  Afrikaners who don’t like to be seen as aggressive or retaliatory. They like to be known as “moderate”. So we ask Mr. Serfontein – what if Malema decides to take over Kroonstad, or even Bloemfontein. Who will stop him? He smells the weakness of the Afrikaner, continuously told by their church leaders and their passive media to remain calm and to get used to the status quo. The word “resistance” is not in their vocabulary. . Violence is anathema to these pacifists, but it’s not anathema to the EFF or the ANC. The latter came to power with violence as their trump card. Nelson Mandela refused to renounce violence as a condition for his release in 1990. He knew how to get his way with the Afrikaner and so does Julius Malema.

The EFF obtained permission to protest in Senekal. Why would permission  be denied them in Kroonstad? And if it were denied, wouldn’t the EFF go in anyway? Who would stop their mobs from tearing Kroonstad apart? What if they arrive at Mr. Serfontein’s farm, armed and violent and demanding to enter his property? Will Mr. Serfontein ignore them then? In a war, ignoring your enemies is lunacy. In Senekal on that hot Friday, farmers should have had a speaking corner. Malema should have been told in no uncertain terms that exhorting his followers to kill the boer will have consequences. One more farmer killed and action will be taken. And if Mr. Serfontein feels nervous about this, this action doesn’t have to be violent. A first step would be to tell the EFF to grow their own food. Farmers will sell their produce direct to selected clients. If the government does nothing to stop these public exhortations to kill farmers, then the boers must make a plan. Mr. Serfontein should be invited to come up with some suggestions.

We are at war in South Africa. It has been declared against a sector of the South African population by a South African political party, publicly and confrontationally. When war was declared against the boer republics at the turn of the penultimate century, those brave men didn’t ignore the  redcoats. They fought for their land and their integrity. The fact that they lost was due to their numbers, not cowardice. Ignoring Malema gives him a free pass to extend his violence and rabble rousing. More farmers will lose their lives.  On Friday 16th, EFF member of parliament  Mbuyiseni Ndlozi exhorted the crowd with the song “Bizani iFire Brigade”. These words mean “Call the fire brigade. Burn these boere”. During the week following, more than 130 000 hectares of veld was destroyed by fire, with 35 000 ha destroyed in the Northern Cape and 40 000 ha in the North West. Livestock, game, grazing and properties were burnt, and farmers say it will take up to three years to get these farms back to proper production.

Ignore the EFF, Mr. Serfontein? You do so at your peril. Like so many of his ilk, Mr. Serfontein is constantly worrying about the “image” of the Afrikaner overseas. Theuns Eloff is another hand wringer. Various church men are constantly telling their flock to “be calm” while fellow Afrikaners are being murdered in their beds, on farms and in the cities. Why is this? Israelis don’t worry about public relations when their country’s security is at stake. The USA believes in the end justifying the means. Guantanamo, extraordinary rendition and their secret torture prisons throughout the world attest to this. Then there’s Russia where “image” is considered something of a joke. Mr. Serfontein may be surprised to know that the image of his type of Afrikaner overseas is that they are the world’s laughing stock. Where else would any other sovereign nation hand over its people lock stock and barrel to a bunch of third world gangsters? No wonder you lost your country Mr. Serfontein. Soon you will lose your livelihood and your people will be reduced to paupers in the land of their birth. Your weakness and your obsession with “moderation” and your image is your Achilles heel.

It is not surprising that the Afrikaans newspaper Beeld gave a full page to Mr. Serfontein’s bleatings. His 2018 letter to President Ramaphosa didn’t do the trick. Nothing will do the trick with the ANC except well-thought out retaliation. The ANC respects power and it exploits weakness. But the Beeld’s relentless brainwashing of the Afrikaner since the mid seventies has worked well. It’s media crucifixion of Dr. Eschel Rhoodie during the seventies Information debacle, and its insidious exhortations for Afrikaners to support Mr. de Klerk’s “yes” vote to “share power” with the ANC was well executed. The Beeld has not let up, even today when it is faced with the tragedy of its “compromise” policies. Thank Heavens for social media’s reality reporting. Buying the Beeld,  and subscribing to News 24 is to feed the crocodile that is destroying you. Stick to social media. It could save our lives and our country.