White farmers killings in Africa | VPRO Documentary

Driving through South Africa’s
deeply conservative countryside… one’s thoughts are narrowed down like
the road itself, from four lanes to two. Life is more simple here
than in the big city. No other place gives you
a better sense of the real conflict. Who has more right to this land? The
black South African, who got here first? Or the white man,
who brought European progress? The time that question couldn’t be posed
for the sake of reconciliation, is gone. the promised land We don’t care
whether you are black or white. Let us share the land. But we know that 80% of the land
in Africa is in white hands. That’s why we say: White men, give us back the land
so that we can live in peace. Mandela went to prison for our land. Chris Hani was killed for our land. Steve Biko was killed for our land. And as long as the land
is not returned to us… and that which they died for
has not been achieved… and we have no freedom yet,
we must continue with our struggle. This is the area
where the white farmer still rules. The pioneers who left the Cape
in the 17th century… with their wagons and their Bibles… to settle all the way here
in the north of South Africa. It’s these ‘bitter-enders’,
as they call themselves… who are terribly afraid
of the new South Africa. Wilhelm, how are you?
-Good. Yes? That’s great. Why are you here? A farmer’s been attacked.
Over at the mountain. On this side of the mountain?
What happened to him? He was on his way home.
Three characters were waiting for him. When he got out to open the gate… they attacked him.
-How is he doing? I don’t know. He’s here.
-Are you going to see him? No, we’re going to see his wife.
If you want to come… Can we ride along in the back? I’d been to this village
in the north of South Africa before. The more north you go,
the more militant the farmer… and the greater the fear of change. The farmers in Swartruggens are eager to
show me that this fear is not unfounded. I’m Bram.
-Pleased to meet you. Pleased to meet you, Bram.
-Jannie. I’m from Holland.
-Great, I’m from South Africa. As you can see, there’s the knife. There’s blood, there’s blood.
You see? He had stopped here to open the gate. As he was opening the gate,
the guys came out from that bush. They stole some of the man’s equipment. That way. Look, to this side. Are you alright? I’ve been better, but thanks. Why do they go after old people?
Why not young men? This is Bram from the Netherlands.
From Holland. We were on our way
when this happened. Now he can see… Pleased to meet you, Bram.
How are you? Alright, given the circumstances. My heart hurts because they’re too
cowardly to tell someone to their face… that they want to hurt him.
We’ve always been good to them. They were foreigners,
not our own people. They’re from another country?
-From Zimbabwe. My husband is fluent in Fanagalo.
He speaks it very well. How is your husband? I’ve just called the hospital.
The doctor is working on him. But they cut him with a hatchet. Where exactly?
-Here, from this point. A gaping wound.
The blood was gushing out. He applied a pressure bandage himself
to stop the bleeding. Did you see him?
-Yes. I was busy working inside the house
when I heard the alarm from the pickup. The dogs were barking as well,
and when I came outside… I heard him screaming. So I grabbed my gun
and fired two shots in the air. I think that must have saved him. Your husband will survive, won’t he? We have faith that the Lord will help him.
We have faith that He will. I wrote a book about this village… where the conflict between white and black
escalated so badly that it led to death. This is the memorial stone.
‘The Skierlik Four Massacre’. The massacre of the four of Skierlik.
‘Of the racial shooting’ Here, this is Tshepo,
a ten-year-old boy. Keditlhotshe Moiphitlhi.
This is the mother. This is the baby. And this is the man who was buried
at Eastern Cape. It happened on January 14, 2008… when a white farmer’s son
by the name of Johan Nel… He was 18 years old, so he was born
the year Mandela was released. 18 years old, on a Monday morning,
without any reason… he took his father’s rifle from the
cupboard, got into his father’s pickup… and drove away from the farm… towards the slum
where all these black miners lived… and just started shooting blindly
at all those black people… lethally injuring four of them… and injuring another eight people
who eventually survived. But irony has it that that cemetery there,
where only white people are buried… has remained segregated
from the black burial ground. The ANC government dug this monument
and put a fence around it. So even in death, black and white
remain segregated in this village. The white murderer later told me
he saw his act as an act of resistance. To save white South Africans from ruin… from crime and the political pressure
to drive the whites off their land. Even though his black victims
had nothing to do with that. How are you? I’m fine. And you? Moses, how are you?
-Fine. Long time no see. How are you doing?
-I used to see you often in Skierlik. Yes, but Skierlik was on the other side
of the road. What happened? Did you move here?
-Yes, we moved here. There are brick houses now.
-Yes, my house is down that road. Who gave you the house? I always say: Nel did.
It’s Nel’s doing. The shooter?
-Yes. What did he do? We don’t know what happened to Nel. Do you remember what happened?
You were there. Yes, I was there. I picked up the mother’s child
after he was gone. I picked up the child
and brought it inside. But the child had been hit by him. Yes, it was already dead.
-It was dead? How do you feel about the white people
since that incident? Since that massacre.
How do you feel about the white people? I can’t frankly tell you that. Are you afraid of them? You see, many people… had been stealing cattle from that farm. Cattle from those farmers?
-Yes. People from Skierlik?
-No, not our people. So who stole the cattle? Other people, from Rustenburg.
They stole the cattle. But the white people said
that we’d stolen the cattle. They said you’d stolen the cattle. But that wasn’t true.
-No. Then came the next Sunday,
the 14th. That Sunday there was a barbecue. And on Monday Nel came.
That’s when Nel came. Corry, how are you?
-Very well, Bram. And you? Good to see you again.
Welcome back at the farm. You have good fences here. Come, let’s go closer. We count the animals every day. There’s a lot of theft in the area,
and if you don’t keep an eye on it… you may discover it too late
and can’t track them down anymore. Do they often steal cattle? Yes, very often, but quickly,
one or two animals. It’s locked from the inside. Thank you kindly. Fences and borders, that’s what
the white people have given Africa. Before the white people came,
the villagers shared all the land. The group is more important
than the individual. Ubuntu: I am because others are. But the white man brought a very
different concept: What’s mine is mine. Come here. Okay, come. You hold her by the head. Careful. Go on. Is it because of the beer
that you don’t know which way? We have to make a new hole.
That’s not easy without a knife. Are you afraid to say you have a knife?
Where’s your knife? Grab her like this.
And keep her steady with your leg. Will the cow make it?
-Some you win, some you lose. But I don’t think she’ll make it.
We’ll give it one last try. If she’s not on her feet by tomorrow…
-Then I’ll shoot her. We have a lot of foreigners working here.
-Because of all our grants… the Tswana, the local people,
don’t need to work any longer. They all receive grants.
For the children, for the elderly. And there’s lots of fraud. So the South Africans
are too expensive now? No, they’re not too expensive. Do you drink beer?
Excuse me, kid. Do you drink?
Lazarus, does he drink? I don’t think so. He’s too poor. The Tswanas have a lot of money.
You people don’t drink. Yesterday you patted a lot.
Why not today? Is it Sunday? You too. Our locals come and go so fast that you
hardly know their background anymore. In the past they were born
on the farm and died there. Not anymore.
They travel all over the place. Pat, pat, pat. I went to get your shovel, Lazarus. He was too lazy.
Lazarus used the shovel. Thanks. There we go.
We’ll try it again tomorrow. In the South African countryside,
the white farmer still sits in front… as if nothing has changed.
But in the townships unrest is stirring… and there’s a call for radical change
and an end to those old relationships. shoot to kill
kill them shoot to kill
kill them kiss the Boer
kiss the farmer kiss the Boer
kiss the farmer where were you without guns? where were you without sticks? we’re going after them
so let us go pick up the spears
here we go pick up the spears
here we go shoot to kill
kill them In the original song they sing
‘kill the Boer, kill the farmer.’ It does worry you.
Why does he say such a thing? Probably not just for his own benefit,
in order to win votes. It’s an expression of hatred.
That’s how I see it. Have you never thought of emigrating? We can’t emigrate to another country. What we have here,
is what we’ve worked for all our lives. We have to make use of it
and protect it to the best of our ability. This is our life. Just as your life and your house
also have their dangers… even if they’re not as menacing… we live here with our dangers
and we deal with them as they come. If something has to be done,
negative as it may be, we’ll do so. We’re very worried
about our land ownership. With those young politicians
threatening with land expropriation… you don’t know where it will end. if they come into power and they pass
a law that land has to be expropriated… Of course we’re worried
that such a decision will be made. They have problems
with the flashing light. It’s not allowed, you mean? We do as we like.
We’re not ashamed of anything. My parents taught us
how to use firearms. I also like to go hunting. If I can’t manage with a gun,
I always have a hunting rifle. I like to use firearms,
but I’ve never shot at a human being. But if I had to, I could do it. We go hunting regularly. I can hit a running buck,
so I’m sure I’ll manage. I grew up with the idea
of the Rainbow Nation. I grew up and played
with the gardener’s children. Only later did the idea of revenge
become customary. But I think it mainly depends
on how you grow up. I think it was Mandela who said: You’re not born hating certain people.
It’s something you’re taught. You can just as easily learn to love them.
I think it varies from house to house… and from person to person
how you feel about your fellow human. I had many black friends at university.
I still keep in touch with some of them. But it’s not…
I think it’s more a cultural difference… than a colour difference. It’s not…
I wouldn’t consider myself a racist. It’s usually
because of the circumstances… that you have mostly white friends
in your surroundings. The dogs see someone move
inside that vehicle. That’s why they bark like that. Do they only bark at black people?
-Yes. No, at everyone. This is the shoe he was wearing.
And this is him in the hospital. And this is the leg they cut open.
-That’s from that hatchet. This is a very traumatic experience. Someone who’s never experienced this… can’t understand what you go through
at such a moment. How do you feel now,
here at the farm? Not at ease. You never know.
That’s why we’re trying… to secure ourselves
as well as possible. We’ve installed an alarm,
which we never had before. So if someone tries to enter the house,
the alarm system will go off. But you keep looking
over your shoulder all the time. And I can’t walk very far anymore. You’re skittish.
-I am. He’s very alert. What are your plans?
Do you want to stay at the farm? Yes. No, we’ll never leave this place. The farm has been in the family
since 1917. So the farm has been a part of them
for a long time. No, we’re not leaving.
-Where should we go? In the village they also rob the people.
There they also kill people. So where can you run to? I wasn’t born at a hospital.
I was born at this farm. And this is where I’ll be buried. Yes, what… Every time I visit white farmers
in South Africa… I’m torn between two sentiments. On the one hand I do admire them,
because just imagine living here. On a farm, surrounded by vegetation. With the idea that everything around it is
potentially dangerous, life-threatening. On the other hand
it’s all so unbelievably depressing. Those farmers who hold on
to an idea from centuries ago… that they’re the chosen people who,
hand on the Bible… trekked to the north of South Africa
with their wagons as pioneers. And insisting on staying here, even
though it’s clear from talking to them… that their future is far behind them
and this is the end of an era.

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