If this comes across as being a bit emotional, well yes it is, what has happened the past week should be the last straw!
I was born in 1980 and grew up in what you could probably call the rural Boland region of the Western Cape. To me that was probably in the middle of Apartheid and as i grew up you notice things, but don't know any better because that what was 'normal'. My father was a banker and in those days worked at Boland Bank so we moved around a bit between Hopefield, Piketberg, Clanwilliam and then settled in Robertson where i finished high school. My brother is three years older than me and my sister two years younger. My brother went to the army straight out of high school, something a lot of people found strange then, but he loved it and it was something he always wanted to do. He became a "parabat" in Bloemfontein and spent ten years in the army. If it wasn't for politics and affirmative action he would still have been there, but the army was no place for a white guy i guess. My sister had to study in-house with a Financial Firm because my parents couldn't afford two children at varsity. Something i still feel very guilty about till today because it wasn't the field she wanted to study, but i can proudly say she has made a huge success of that. She passed her B Accounting Degree Cum Laude two weeks after giving birth to her first child.
One thing i will never forget was when i had to take a letter home which my parents needed to sign to state that they don't mind if i compete in sport against players of colour. Yes, that happened and not for one second did they hesitate to say NO they don't mind. I was too crazy about anything to do with a round ball anyway. But on a serious note, i do believe that South Africans my age or similar has many similar stories to tell.
We were a lower to middle class family in South Africa. Growing up and living in these small towns many of my friends were farmers or worked in agriculture. Today i have many friends and colleagues in agriculture. So that is me in a very short nutshell...an ordinary South African like so many other!!
In the past couple of years i have been personally affected by the constant attack on farmers, not always murders but lies and making them scapegoats for things they didn't do. All of this politically driven and ignited!
Oom Johnny Burger, Rietvalley Estate, committed suicide not out of guilt but he was a depressed broken man targeted by politics with them wanting to make an example of him to the farmers. What happened to the Papenfus women who ignited this bullshit and created the nightmare??? For some time no one could find her and i bet you she is walking free having a cocktail or glass of South African wine in Hermanus or somewhere else. Why is no one hunting her???
We always hear about the farm murders in the Free State, Limpopo or areas very far from the Cape Winelands. Now it has come to us and as close as Stellenbosch with the murder of Joubert Conradie. Not too long ago there was the murder of Alberto Costa also in Stellenbosch.
This week it hit A LOT closer to home for me, but for the sake of privacy i cannot say who it was. He was abducted in Ashton, a small town close to Robertson, by three men with knives thrown in the back of his car and driven to Cape Town. I cannot share too much information, the case has been reported to the police, but he miraculously escaped early Saturday morning. To see and hear an older man traumatized and broken, the same man who went to the Angola War when he was 18 and lost friends on the battlefield, saw and experienced things none of us should, is heartbreaking.
Have you seen the short video of wolves being reintroduces into Yellowstone National Park in the USA after 70 odd years and the impact it had, even changing the flow of rivers??? Watch it!!
The murder of farmers will have the same effect as when wolves were taken OUT of the Yellowstone Park, more closer to home, just look at Zimbabwe. I for one have always said that South Africa will not become the next Zimbabwe. Unfortunately what has happened recently is busy affecting my optimism. Violence in general is on the rise to the point where people will start taking the law into their own hands. My heart breaks every morning when i have to hear about another child killed by a stray bullet in Mannenberg or Grassy Park. Those poor parents who has to live with that but keep their heads down and work to earn a living as well.
This is not the South Africa my parents signed YES for, it is not the South Africa I love and wherever I travel invite foreigners to come visit. I don't have a tractor or a bakkie, but I am willing to join anyone who has space in theirs on Monday or whenever! If people can Toi Toi and break down the city for service delivery or student fees, then we must stop being too proud to stand up! Pride will not get us anywhere!!! Huge action needs to be taken and it has to happen very soon, we cannot sit back and keep talking about it around a braai. We are great at talking, but this needs to go over to action which doesn't mean violence. It means government and the world has to take notice!!
I will be wearing Black on Monday!!!