Saturday, April 18, 2015

Trial of Afrikaner Extremist Plotters: A Reminder of Heightened Racial Tensions

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The accused allegedly openly hoped for the reintroduction of apartheid.

2011 saw heightened anger amongst increasingly marginalised Afrikaner nationalists. Reaction to the murder of white supremacist leader Eugene Terreblanche and anger at Julius Malema’s singing of the ‘Shoot the Boer’ song served as a reminder of the extreme racial tension persisting across South Africa. This trend shows no sign of abating in 2012.

Pretoria High Court yesterday heard that three Afrikaner men, facing charges of terrorism, planned to start racial war by bombing ANC members' houses. The three allegedly produced detailed plans for bomb attacks on public transport vehicles largely used by the black population and the assassination of ANC leaders. The court was told that Georgios Kiratzidis, 21, Marthinus Vorster, 20 and Ruan Louw, 21, planned to carry out the killings in Lulekani, Mashishimale and Namakgale – townships near Phalaborwa.

A map marking the homes of potential victims has been presented as evidence, as have seven homemade bombs.

The defendants are divided in their stance – Kiratzidi has pleaded guilty to possessing bombs, but denied planning an attack. Vorster admits that the plans existed but denies his presence at the meeting made him a willing participant and Louw claims that the explosives were made only in order to catch fish in a local river.

Unfortunately for the defendants, several alleged co-conspirators and witnesses have agreed to act as state witnesses against them.

The motivation for the attacks was, according to the witnesses, vengeance against Malema for singing the ‘Shoot the Boer’ song and for the murder of Terreblanche, a figure idolised by many extremist Afrikaners.

With South Africa this week largely united in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the ANC, it is easy to forget or underestimate the significance of the activities of the far-right Afrikaner minority. Cases such as this should not be dismissed as an aftershock of apartheid tensions, or as an anachronism. It is deeply concerning that both the accused in this case and most of the protestors found outside the Terreblanche murder trial were 21 or younger. There is a new generation of economically deprived, angry Afrikaners, filled with the same hatred and feelings of inferiority that developed before apartheid and were unleashed during apartheid rule.

It is now, therefore, as important as ever that the ANC should continue their efforts at reconciliation.

The case will be judged on April 2, 2012.