The cruelty and gruesome reality of the violence with which farm attacks in South Africa are perpetrated, is enough to create feelings of horror and retaliation in most of us. The golden rule of morality immediately kicks in: Do unto others as you wish them to do unto you – the rule which is sadly broken night after night on the open fields of this country.
I remember the attack where the farmer was chopped to death with a machete before his wife was shot and only the little 5 year old girl, who had to witness it all, was also shot. I try to ban from my mind the thought: What must have gone through her little mind in those moments when she realised that she was standing alone facing only the animals who just destroyed her entire world of safety and comfort?
I recall the schoolboy who arrived home to find his parents murdered – the murderers then hanged him by his school tie inside a wardrobe. I also remember the woman of 85 who was beaten to death with the scorching hot clothes iron with which she was tortured first. And then the farmer who was tied behind his truck and dragged along the gravel road until his limbs came off. Yes, indeed, I recall them all, and many more – because even in describing them in words the picture is so vivid that I have to swallow against the nausea it creates.
And the worst of all is the one aspect we hardly ever look at. The fact that it doesn’t end with a family gathered around an open grave. It doesn’t end with a white cross on a hillside or a name in some list or a police dossier gathering dust. The resulting impact on individuals, on a society and on an entire nation, is immense.
1) The country looses the very valuable asset of an independent food provider. After 346 years of existence, South Africa had to start importing food at staggering cost in 1998 to feed the population and to avoid famine. Why? For the simple reason that our food providers are being massacred, they are the victims of an ever escalating genocide.
2) In an attempt to avoid minor labour related issues, which so easily escalates in a brutal, murderous attack on the employer and his household, more and more farmers turn to mechanisation and consequently decreasing employment. This, obviously, leads to higher unemployment in the rural community and unemployment feeds crime- such as farm attacks. It is a catch 22 situation for the farmer.
3) The total lack of action by the government is perceived as a silent approval. Even the DA opposition says nothing. The farming community, and the white minority, feels desolate and neglected. And obviously nobody trusts the government any longer. No country can function like that.
4) The trauma of the attack on a community has a ripple effect. The morale of the entire district, province and eventually an entire ethnic group in a society is negatively impacted upon. The consequent result is predictable – suspicion of an ethnic group to which the attackers also belong, blatant racism, prejudice and even feelings of, and acts of retaliation is not uncommon. And let us not fool each other – a potential full scale racial war between black and white South Africans down to the very core of the artificially created rainbow nation, is becoming a bigger possibility by the day.
5) Almost without exception, after an attack productivity comes to a standstill. The farm is sold because the family does not want to stay there any more. The place reminds them of the horrendous thing that happened, so they get rid of it. A way of life is destroyed – old farms that has been cultivated by families from generation to generation and maintained with the love and respect which grew from living on the land for decades, now goes to strangers. As a result of the change of ownership, the farm achieves the same level of productivity it had on the day of the murder, only after 8 years again! If we calculate that quite possibly more than 30% of the farming community already suffered this fate, a little bit of mathematics gives a scary result of famine looming on the horizon.
6) In many cases the new owner brings along his own staff – people he believes he can trust. He is concerned about the existing labourers on the farm, because hopeless police investigation cannot track the murderers and one never knows whether the murderer of last week is driving your tractor 500 metres from the crime scene this morning. Thus, further unemployment resulting in an escalated crime rate in the neighbouring town. One endless, vicious circle.
7) But probably the worst of all is the trauma of surviving the attack, or losing a loved-one. One lies awake at night, wondering what went through their minds in those moments, wondering why they had to go through such an ordeal. One starts to question your faith. One starts to blame yourself for not protecting them. One starts to feel like an animal in a cage, because you don’t know where to turn to, who to speak to, what to do. You hate and you want to destroy and retaliate. You blame yourself irrationally, you struggle with depression. You feel so alone… And it drives you crazy!
Imagine a 14 year old boy forced at gunpoint to lie down on his bed and watch as his mother is raped over and over again next to him. Six years later he struggles with anger and feelings of helplessness because he couldn’t protect her. He is depressed, he failed his grades, he never passed his final year at school. The trauma was so great that he could not function normally. One act of aggression destroyed his entire future. A bright young boy who had his very existence brutally taken from him by a group of despicable barbarians who probably does not even recall his face any longer…
There is a country drowning in its own blood…and I often want to scream out: How is it possible that nobody notices???
By Daniel Lötter (Front National)
South Africa Today – South Africa News