Americans should recognize South African genocide

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“Listen, you white bastard. I have AIDS. We are now going to rape your wife and give her AIDS too. Then we kill you.” This is what a black gunman told Manie Potgieter as the clothing was pulled off his wife, Helena, according to a May 5, 2010, Times UK article.

Manie and Helena are Afrikaners – South Africans of European descent. They were targeted for horrific dehumanization and murder because, in the eyes of their attackers, their skin was the wrong color. Although the assailants were chased off before the Potgieters could be executed, others haven’t been so lucky.

Since the takeover of the ANC government in 1994, racist black gunmen have grotesquely murdered more than 3,000 Afrikaners, according to a March 28, 2010, Times UK article. Often, Afrikaners are forced to watch as their family members are brutalized and tortured before being killed.

Gregory Stanton, head of Genocide Watch and a former law professor, said “There is a motive of hatred, that these are hate crimes. People are tortured and murdered in ways that are dehumanizing.”

In a 2003 report on the attacks, Genocide Watch found that convicted gunmen “hated their Afrikaner victims and saw them as ‘dogs’ rather than people; and that they killed and tortured and raped for this reason.”

Louis Swanepoel, senior in mechanical engineering, is a K-State student from South Africa. He came here in June 2005 with his parents, who left South Africa to find work and avoid the rising tide of violence. He agrees that Afrikaners are the victims of an ongoing genocide.

“My friend and his mother were assaulted with golf clubs and his father was killed with a shotgun,” Swanepoel said. “After we moved, the people who bought our house were murdered.”

Swanepoel said the violence cannot be explained as a backlash against apartheid.

“Afrikaners always get along with older Africans. The people conducting the attacks have grown up after apartheid. A lot of them aren’t even from South Africa – they’re from Zimbabwe and Mozambique.” Swanepoel said of the genocide, “The ANC might see it but doesn’t care about it,” explaining that government policies systematically deny jobs to Afrikaners on the basis of their ethnicity.

According to an April 9, 2002, BBC article, a woman born in South Africa has a greater chance of being raped than learning how to read. In a June 20, 2009, Time survey of South African men, one in four admitted to being a rapist, making the country the rape capital of the world. In a survey of schoolchildren in the Soweto township, one in four boys said that “jackrolling,” a South African term for recreational gang rape, was “fun,” according to a June 19, 1999, BBC article.

“Tourists will go to Soweto to see what it’s like,” Swanepoel said. “If your skin is white, the further you drive, the lower your chances of getting out alive.”

A November 14, 2010, article in the Guardian reported that British newlyweds honeymooning in South Africa were carjacked in a similar township. The gunmen threw the man from the taxi and sped off with his 28-year-old wife. Her body was found in the backseat of the abandoned car.

Ethan Bezzek, senior in history, met his girlfriend while studying abroad in South Africa.

“The ANC uses race and apartheid to remain in power,” Bezzek said.

The K-State student believes apartheid is no excuse for the violence, explaining that gunmen are killing “people who were six when apartheid ended.”

“It’s a genocide because they’re targeting a specific ethnic group,” Bezzek said.

Bezzek’s girlfriend, Shavonne Janse Van Rensburg, still lives in South Africa.

“When developed areas are struck, nine times out of 10 the victims are white,” Rensburg said.

Rensburg explains that ANC policies prevent victims from protecting themselves.

“The criminals in our country have more rights than the victims,” Rensburg said. “If someone is breaking into my home, I have to wait until he’s three meters from me before he’s threatening my life. Then I have to fire a warning shot before I am allowed to shoot him. I am not allowed to shoot him in the back, so if my husband walked in on a guy raping me, my husband could not shoot him.”

Walk onto any college campus in America and you can find students who admirably work against genocide in the Congo, Uganda or Rwanda. As citizens of one of the most generous nations on earth, we’ll stand up for people halfway around the world we’ve never met. So why is no one standing up for the Afrikaners?

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