First Published: 2013-06-27

 

White South Africans fear ‘being thrown into sea’ after Mandela

 

Some members of once-ruling white minority fear Nelson Mandela's spirit of reconciliation may fade after his death.

 

Middle East Online

By Charlotte Plantive –JOHANNESBURG

Father of Rainbow Nation

As South Africa prepares for life without the father of the Rainbow Nation, some members of the once-ruling white minority fear Nelson Mandela's spirit of reconciliation may fade after his death.

When apartheid ended nearly two decades ago, many whites braced for the worst. Conditioned for years to be wary of the "swart gevaar" -- black threat -- they feared being thrown into the sea.

That prophecy never materialised.

When he became South Africa's first black president in 1994, Nelson Mandela closed a dark chapter of his life in prison and reached out to his former oppressors to the point of having tea with the widow of the architect of apartheid, Hendrik Verwoerd.

With the father of democratic South Africa now fighting for his life in hospital, wild rumours have been flying around the Internet about what life will be like without Mandela for the white population.

"The death of Mandela could mark a turning point toward disaster," according to one article posted on the Facebook page of a group calling itself "Save the white people in South Africa".

AfriForum, a non-profit organisation that represents the interests of white Afrikaners, has received phone calls from people asking: "What's going to happen? Should they be afraid?" said its deputy chief executive Ernst Roets.

"We see people, especially on social media, saying things like 'if Mandela dies, they will kill all white people'," he said.

But their investigations find these warnings to be baseless.

"We don't think there is any reason to have that fear," Roets said.

For Esmi, a 47-year-old Afrikaner who stopped by the Pretoria hospital where Mandela is being treated, fears of blacks turning on whites after Mandela is gone are the least of her worries.

"That hasn't even crossed my mind," she said.

"Everyone is so focused on Mandela. I've got the same feeling as during the soccer in 2010 when we were all as one together. The atmosphere is more sombre but we are all for Mandela because he was good for our country."

The ruling African National Congress has also sought to calm any jitters, noting that Mandela left public office more than a decade ago and the country has not fallen into disarray.

"All the policy positions of the ANC speak to this progressive thinking of the ANC, there is nothing that says whites will be thrown into the sea," ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu told The New Age daily.

Weakened by age and his 27 years in prison, Mandela has not appeared in public for three years, which encourages hope that his eventual passing will not unleash racial tensions.

"I don't think there is anything to worry about," said Sherwin van Blerk, development manager of the South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR). "We are an open society. We are a great democracy."

A bigger concern is wealth inequalities, van Blerk said.

But the line between the two is not clear. The average income of a white household is six times that of a black household, according to the latest census.

The two communities do mix but to a limited extent. Rampant crime breeds mistrust. While most of the 43 murders that happen daily take place mainly in black townships, whites are shocked by the violent burglaries in their neighbourhoods and the occasional killing of white farmers.

Independent political analyst Olmo von Meijenfeldt said fears can be fed by the "lack of a conciliatory voice at the top of the establishment".

Although President Jacob Zuma has given up singing a popular struggle song "give me my machine gun", he still sparked controversy in December when he suggested that keeping dogs was part of white culture.

With Mandela in critical condition on life support, calls are growing for his legacy of peace and tolerance to be safeguarded for future generations.

"I am not fearing for my life," said Natalie, who lives in the country's remote northeast. "But I am worrying for his legacy. People in power don't care about reconciliation."

 

Ahead of elections, new clashes remind Tunisia of need to fight terror

Coalition strikes in Syria eliminate more than 500 jihadists in one month

Saudi Arabia jails mothers for preparing sons to wage jihad

Israel classifies car crash as ‘hit and run terror attack’

Turkish pianist to Islamist-rooted government: Don't be afraid of artists!

Relatives of Iraq massacre victims: Blackwater guards should be killed

Ghannouchi makes it clear to Tunisia: It’s either political Islam or Daesh!

Deadly clashes erupt after army raid in northern Lebanon

200 Iraqi Kurd fighters to travel through Turkey to Kobane

Jury finds Blackwater guards guilty of 2007 'massacre' in Iraq

Iraq Kurds approve reinforcements for Kobane

Turkish woman arrested for stepping on Koran

Erdogan criticises US for airdrops on Kobane

Iraq schools provide shelter but late to open for classes

Syria air force shoots down two of three 'IS warplanes'

Egypt court rules on ‘Nasr City terror cell’

Fire from Egypt wounds two Israeli soldiers near border

By hook or by crook, settlers notch up property gains in East Jerusalem

Turkey envoy meets leader of parallel government in Libya

Israel arrests seven Palestinian fishermen off northern Gaza

Khamenei to Abadi: Iraq can beat 'Islamic State' without foreign troops

Saudi special court rules in cases of riots and terrorism

Libya army scores small victory in Benghazi

Only in Libya: Government calls for civil disobedience

Kasserine reaps bitter harvest from Tunisia revolution: Poverty and terrorism

Iraq Kurds set to vote on deployment of Peshmerga forces to Syria

Islamic State ‘share in US weapons’ embarrasses Pentagon

Alderton: Morocco unrivalled business gateway to sub-Saharan Africa

Protests over IS turn Istanbul University into war zone

Turkey eyes stricter punishment against lawbreakers at protests

For Sudan President: Promises are something and re-election is something else

Iran returns Abadi to ‘house of obedience’

From traditional military to counterinsurgency force: Syria army grows more capable

South Sudan rivals accept 'responsibility' for civil war

British drones in Iraq also used for Syria surveillance

Turkey launches new wave of wire-tapping arrests

Rise of Shiite militias challenges government authority in Iraq

Syria Kurds show impressive resistance to ‘Islamic State’ in Kobane

Vote or boycott: Grim record of self-serving politicians puts off voters in Tunisia

Egypt universities tighten security to avoid new Islamist violence

Iran forces inside Iraq as Abadi rules out foreign ground intervention!

South Sudan rivals meet in new bid to end civil war

From Morocco into Spain: Crowd of African migrants charges to border fence

Deadly suicide attack targets Shiite mosque in central Baghdad

Turkey gives Iraq Peshmerga forces passage to Kobane