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Ventersdorp (SS)

Simone Scholtz/TwentyTen

Location: Ventersdorp, South Africa


Following the murder of former leader of the AWB, Eugene Terre'Blanche, on April 3, 2010, the town of Ventersdorp has been the epicentre of a debate about the presence of racial hatred in South Africa.

Allegedly killed by two of his farm workers, Terre’Blanche’s fate highlights the complexity of relationships between farm owners and their staff. Some workers speak fondly of their employees, telling stories of how their ‘missus’ treats them like her own children. Others are invited to share cups of tea with their white ‘bosses’, and some admit that the majority of the violence goes on in the townships, among the black men.

Unfortunately some workers’ stories are not so encouraging, with tales of their wages being withheld and details of beatings they received at the hand of their employers.

The daylight violence perpetrated by men who robbed one farm has led to its occupants no longer trusting any of their workers. While acknowledging this, they also recognise that in order to have a future for their children they must learn to live with their fellow South Africans.

The attitude among the farmers is mixed. Some believe that God is punishing them with the current black leadership in the country, and that Boers are used as scapegoats. Others no longer feel the affects of apartheid and live in harmony with those around them.

As all eyes look to South Africa during the FIFA World Cup, it is uncertain whether they will see what Nelson Mandela hoped would be ‘a society of which all humanity will be proud’.

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Transcript of multimedia for Ventersdorp

The murder of Eugene Terre'Blanche (previous leader of the extreme right wing organization the AWB) on 3 April 2010, allegedly by two of his black farm workers, has made Ventersdorp the focus point for renewed allegations of continuing racial hatred in South Africa.

“As far as I am concerned the race relations between us and them are very good. We have two, a man and a woman. I will exchange them for nothing on earth. When we drink coffee, we have it together. This apartheid they speak of, I don't know it at all.” - Coenie Strydom

“I knew oubaas when he still lived with his first wife. She was also a good missus to me. My mother worked there for 10 years and they treated her well. We were like children in their home. Even now, we feel like their children, because they do everything for us. They also feel sick when I am sick. When oubaas is sick, we feel sorry for him. We miss each other so.” - Sarah Lipohi

“‘Kill the boer, kill the farmer’, why are they singing it now? He got his land. He got everything. Who is committing violence against the whites, more than 3000 dead?” - Coenie Strydom

“There is violence, but mostly not between the whites and the blacks. It is mostly between the black people. They murder each other at the township. I don't see a difference. I was born in Ventersdorp and it is still the same.” - Sarah Lipohi

“It was during the day. She was sleeping on my lap. Before I knew it, he was standing right here behind me with a gun. He said to me, “The baby he will leave”. Then I said to him, “Do you really think I will place my baby's life in danger for money?” Then he said to, “No, where is the money?” He is going to hurt me. Then he put a screwdriver in my face and said, “I am going to make you ugly”.

“Then he told me to lie down, because he is going to kick me. Then he took an old carpet and threw it over me. Then he told me to lie still, because he is going to shoot. Just after that, I heard the foot steps down the corridor. Then I knew he was on his way out. Even when the robbers had left, some of the farmers chased them. When the robbers where off the road, the police watched how they jumped off the bakkie (truck) and ran away.

“You don't trust your workers any more, because I know for certain that they captured her. They got information from here. You are constantly looking around you, but we all have to work together. We all want to live here and want our children to be bale to continue in our land.” - Lorianne Steenkamp

“The robbers, they kill the people. I am scared of the robbers, but I did not see them. I have one child. The other they are dead, I had four. They where sick and died. My father is dead. I have to look after them. At my house I have to provide as well. Luane, she was born with me. I like her.” - Johanna Sisamphi

“Our land was not given to us. It was bought by the blood and labour of our ancestors. The chosen people will have to pay their dues. We have weapons. Those who have not armed themselves, are busy doing so.

“Everybody realizes what powers we are facing. The blood will flow. Like De La Ray said, he is totally against war, but if he picks up his weapon, he will also be the last one to lay it down. God is punishing is with the blacks that are in power.

“The Boer has always been a scapegoat. Because if you want to launch an action, you need a guilty and an innocent party. To fuel the hatred is easy, make the Boer the pig.
A worker lodges a complaint against you; it can even be a false complaint. On a Friday afternoon the police come in large numbers to arrest you. On a Friday afternoon you can't get a lawyer to represent you. While you are behind bars, you will be sodomized or assaulted or both. Even if you are released on Monday, you will still be infected with HIV.” - Frans Foerie

“No, it happens once every month or two, if someone makes a mistake, then he beats us. In some ways he is good for us, in other ways he is just the other way around, then he scolds us. If I leave the work, I will struggle. So, I carry on.” - Isak Masigo

“If you go to the police, the police come, but they can't help you. We are also used to it here.” - Tomas Mothontho

“The cattle ran away. The farmer chased me from behind with his truck. I was in hospital. Nothing came from it.” - Elias Nkemezen.

“You might give him a smack or two, but an assault, never. I know of nothing like that. On the contrary, I reprimand my children in the same way.” - Andries Hatting

“My baas gives me R1600. On the R1600, then he says the spanners are missing. Then you get R600. That is the thing that gives me a heart ache, because you work hard, but you don't get paid. If you need something on the farm and you ask for help, then you get help. At the end of the month, when they have to tell you about the debt you made, you don't even get a paper to tell you how much you owe. What if I die and I have nothing for the children? Then they are left behind to struggle.” - Isak Masigo

“We would all like to pay our workers more, but we are in a financial struggle ourselves.” - Frans Foerie

“Isac has bought two motor cars, that I finance for him. We keep it all on record, but he does not understand it and he does not believe you. His funeral bill when his brother passed away, that funeral cost me R7000 or more. The old man arrived here. He is hungry and cannot find work. He cannot do work that is worth minimum wage to me. If he wants to live in a better place, I will finance everything for you, but then you do it.” - Andries Hatting

“I work for so long, because I am happy at work. I get what I want. When I ask, help. When I am sick, they look after me. We the farm workers, even if we watch on the TV, even if we don't have tickets to go to the stadiums, maybe it will get better. That the other people can see that there are nations who live together. That don't fight. Then we can live together.” - Nani Pologwane

“I have had enough of the soccer world cup. When they are finished, this country will be bankrupt. In Durban there are two big stadiums next to each other. I won't even watch one match. They sold our country for rugby. Francois Pienaar is now a hero. He and Mandela. Now they are trying to save our country again with soccer.” - Coenie Snyman

“I care about the soccer. I hope it is a big success, but I am not a soccer fan.” - Andries Hatting

“Tourists will become soft targets, because they don't realize how violent it is in this country.” - Frans Foerie

“We heard that they are going to come and play with the ball and that we must get tickets. Things have not improved that much here on the farm, that we will be allowed to go and watch.” - Isak Masigo

By allowing people of the Ventersdorp area to speak for themselves, the stories illustrate some of the complexities of the relationship between farmer and worker. What is clear is that the relationship between black and white cannot be reduced to one of simplified racial hatred.

"Out of the experience of an extraordinary human disaster that lasted too long, must be born a society of which all humanity will be proud." - Nelson Mandela’s inauguration speech 1994.

Afrikaans translation

Die moord op Eugene Terre'Blanche op 3 April 2010, vermoedelik deur twee van sy swart plaaswerkers, het Ventersdorp die brand punt gemaak van herniede aantygings van rasse haat in Suid-Afrika.

“Wat my betref is die rasse verhouding tussen ons en die baie goed. Ons het twee, 'n man en 'n vrou. Ek sal hulle verruil vir niks in die wêreld nie.

As ons koffie drink sit on saam en koffie drink. Die apartheid waarvan hulle praat ken ek glad nie.” Coenie Snyman

“Ek het oubaas geken toe hy nog saam met sy eerste vrou gebly het. Sy was ook n goeie miessis vir my. My ma het daar gewerk vir tien jaar en hulle het haar mooi behandel. Ons was soos kindertjies daar by hulle se huis. Nou nog, ons voel soos hulle se kinders, want hulle doen alles vir ons. Hulle voel ook siek as ek siek is. As oubaas siek is, ons voel ook jammer vir die oubaas. Ons mis mekaar so.” Sarah Lipohi.

“Kill the Boer, kill the farmer.” Hoekom sing hy dit nou? Hy het mos sy grond gekry. Hy het mos alles gery. Wie pleeg geweld teen die blankes, oor die 3000 dood al.” Coenie Snyman

“Daar is geweld maar die meeste is nie tussen die wit mense en die swart mense. Die meeste is tussen die swart mense. Hulle maak dood mekaar daar by die lokasie. Ek sien nie verskil nie. Ek is in Ventersdorp gebore. Toe is Ventersdorp nog net dieselfde.” Sarah Lipohi

“Dit was nog helder oor dag. Sy het op my skoot gelê en slaap. Toe ek nou weer sien, toe staan hy net hier agter my met die pistool. Toe se hy vir my, die baby gaan hy nou los. Toe se ek vir hom, dink jy nou regtig ek gaan my baba se lewe in gevaar stel oor geld? Toe se hy vir my, nou waar is die geld, hy soek die geld. Hy gaan vir my nou seer maak. Toe druk hy die skoewedraaer in my gesig en toe sê hy vir my, 'ek gaan jou nou begin lelik maak'. Op n staduim sê hy vir my ek moet lê, want hy gaan my nou skop. Toe vat hy 'n ou mat en hy gooi die mat bo oor my. Toe sê hy vir my ek beter stil le, want hy gaan skiet. Toe ek die voertuig hoor, toe weet ek nou kan ek uit kom.

Selfs toe die rowers nou weg gejaag het, het van die boere hulle agterna gesit. Toe die rowers van die pad af is het die polisie gekyk hoe hulle van die van die bakkie af spring en weghardloop. Hulle het gestaan en kyk vir hulle hoe hulle weg hardloop.

Mens vertrou nou nie meer jou werkers nie, want ek weet vir 'n feit hulle the haar aangehou. Hulle het al die informasie uit haar uit gekry. Jy kyk nou maar om elke hoek en draai. Maar ons almal moet saam werk. En ons almal wil hier bly en wil he ons kinders moet hier kan aangaan in ons land.” Lorianne Steenkamp

“Die rowers hulle maak die mense dood. Ek is bang vir die rowers. Maar ek het nie vir hulle eers met my oge gesien nie. Ek het een kinders, ek het vier gehad. Hulle is siek en dood. Daar by my huis ook ek moet ook sorg. Luane, hy is by my gebore en ek het hom groot gemaak. Ek hou van haar.” Johanna Sisamphi

“Ons land is nie gekry nie. Hy is gekoop met voorgeslagte se bloed en hande arbeid. Die geloftevolk sal maar weer sy geloftes moet betaal. Ons het baie wapens en die wat nie reeds herlaai het nie is besig om te herlaai. God straf ons met die swartes wat in beheer is. Almal besef met watse magte het ons te doen. Die bloed sal vloei. Soos De La Rey gesê het, hy is totaal teen oorlog, maar as hy tot wapen opneem kom, is hy ook die laaste om sy wapen neer te lê.

Die boer is nog al die jare as sondebok uit gekry. Want as jy n aksie wil loots moet jy tog n skuldige en en onskuldige kry. Om die haat aan te blaas is dit maklik, maak die boer die vark in die verhaal.

'n Werker lê 'n klag teen jou. Dit kan selfs n valse klag wees. Vrydag middag sal die polisie jou met 'n oormag kom arristeer. Vrydag middag kry jy nie 'n prokereur om jou saak aan te hoor nie of. Terwyl jy daar in aanhouding is word jy gesodomiseer of aangerand of beide. Al kom jy Maandag uit, sit jy nog steeds met daai vigs besmetting.” Frans Foerie

“Dit gebeur so elke een of twee maande, as iemand fout gedoen het, dan slaan hy vir ons. As ek die werk los, dan gaan ek nou sukkel, so ek hou maar net aan met die werk.”

Die polisie hulle kom, hulle kan jou ook nie hep nie. Osn is klaar hierso gewoons ook.

Jy kan hom dalk 'n klap gee of twee, 'n aanranding, nooit. Ek weet van niks van dit nie. (Dries Hatting)
Inteendeel, rk por my kinders op dieselfde manier aan. “(Frans Foerie)

“My baas gee my R1600. Dan sê meneer die spanners hulle is weg. Dan kry ek R600.
Dis die ding wat maak dat mens krommel met die hard, want jy pay mos nie, maar jy werk hard.

As jy dalk nodig iets by die plaas. Dan word jy gehelp. Einde van die maand jy kry nie eers 'n papiertjie wat se hoeveel geld jy skuld nie. Ek gaan nou dood en ek het nog niks vir die kindertjies nie. Dan bly hulle agter met sukkel.”

“Ons wil almal graag al die werkers wil baie meer geld betaal, maar ons self is in 'n reuse koste knyp.” Frans Foerie

“Isak het al twee motorkarre gekoop wat jy nou finansier vir hom. Ek kan vir jou in sy boekie wys, maar hy verstaan dit nie en hy glo dit ook nie. Sy begrafnis rekening van anderdag toe sy broer dood is, kos my R7000 or meer. As hy in 'n beter plek wil bly, ek sal vir jou alles finansier, maar dan doen jy dit. “ Andries Hatting

“Ek werk so lank, want ek werk lekker. As ek vra, help. As ek siek is hulle kyk vir my.

Ons die, plaas werkers, al kyk ons by die 'tv', maar ons sal bly wees. Dat die ander mense sien daar is baie nasies wat saam bly wat nie so baklei nie. Dis lewe mos.” Nani

“Ek is siek en sat vir die sokker wêreld beker. As hulle klaar is,is hierdie land bankrot. In Durban sit twee groot staduims by mekaar. Ek sal nie eers een wedstryd kyk nie. Hulle het ons land verkoop vir rugby. Francois Pienaar is nou 'n held. Hy en Mandela. Nou probeer hulle ons land weer red deur sokker.” Coenie Snyman

“Toeriste gaan sagte teikens word, want hy besef nie hoe geweldadig is dit in hierdie land nie.” Frans Foerie

“Ons het gehoor hulle kom hier na ons toe. Hulle kom met die ball speel en so. Ons moet daai kaartjies kry. Maar ons weet nou nie gaan ons daai kans kry om te gaan kyk nie. Dit is nou nie so baie beter hier by die plaas dat ons gelos word dat ons gaan kyk nie.
Deur van die mense van Ventersdorp self te laat praat, wys die stories van die kompleksiteie rondom die verhouding tussen boer en werker. Die verhouding tussen swart en wit kan nie vireenvoudig word tot een van blote rasse haat nie.

“Van uit die ervaring van 'n buitengewone menslikke tragedie wat te lank aan gehou het moet 'n samelewing gebore word waarop die hele mensdom trots sal wees.” Nelson Mandela inhuldigings toespraak 1994

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