South Africa: Apartheid & White Genocide?

Does a white genocide really exist in South Africa?

Lots of talk has been going on with what’s been going on in South Africa, but lots of misinformation still surrounds it. In order to actually know whats going — even in respects to farm murders — you need to understand the history of South Africa and Apartheid.

A Brief History of South Africa

The earliest known people to inhabit South Africa were known as the Khoisans. The Khoisans were African, but they weren’t the same as the Bantu. When compared to each other, the Bantus and Khoisans spoke different languages and had different phenotypic features. Before the Bantu started to expand, the southern half of South Africa was inhabited by the Khoisans. At about roughly the same time, the Bantus began expanding and started to displace other Africans who had previously lived there. The Bantu had reached most of South Africa by 1,000 AD, and most people there were still Khoisans; when the Portuguese arrived, they encountered very few Bantu there.

While the Bantu were expanding, they ended up dividing into tribes and fought each other for land. The Zulus ended up conquering their “neighbors (other African tribes)” in the 1810’s – 1820’s, this led to the Zulu empire.

The first white settlers established their colony in the southern tip of South Africa. They established themselves in 1653 by the Dutch East India company and specialized in supplying traveling ships with food and other necessities, but the Dutch needed more food and so they had to expand. This led to them clashing with the Khoisans and having the Khoi-Dutch wars. The cape was invaded and conquered by the British, but some Dutch didn’t want to live under British rule (sound familiar? USA, USA) and so they went to somewhere else in South Africa. The nations the Dutch set up were largely pre-industrial and so the inhabitants became known as Boers, a Dutch word for farmer.

In the 19th century, there was basically a war between everyone because they all wanted land. The British ended up winning and they ended up passing the South Africa Act of 1909 in which the British ruled everything. This ended in 1948 when South Africa declared its independence and it led to Apartheid.


Apartheid can be traced back to the Land Act of 1913: this law made it illegal for white to sell land to blacks in an effort to make sure that the land was white-owned. A lot stuff was made to separate whites from blacks; for example, inter-racial marriage was banned, and blacks were re-located into places called Bantustans.

Apartheid led to violent clashes, between blacks and whites. Often violent, many people died as some clashes were retaliations against Apartheid. The 1989 South African president ended up dying and F.W. De Klerk ended up taking his place. He eliminated many Apartheid-Era laws and freed Nelson Mandela from prison. De Klerk and his party, The National Party, lost to a pro-Apartheid party in a national election. De Klerk then hosted a national referendum on if he should continue his plans to end Apartheid. The referendum has been heavily criticized since the media was largely biased since the government owned the media (Schonteich et al., 2003), Western places threatened to make South Africa go into a recession if they voted no  (Wren, 1993), and accusations of voter fraud have been made.

The effects of colonialism on South Africa by white Europeans can be found here.

Farm Murders, White Genocide?

Very recently, claims have been made by some Right wing media sites that there’s a white genocide going on in South Africa. Blacks are killing whites, most prominently in farm murders. Even Donald Trump tweeted about it, and it led to media articles “fact checking” him. Their conclusions? Trump is wrong. But what if the fact checkers are wrong?

The fact checkers focus on the hyperbolic term of “white genocide,” which makes it easier for them to disprove. That’s why they can claim that white farmers are not under attack in South Africa. Luckily for us, the media cites places like the BBC and Africa Check, a South African fact- checking site that reports on farm murders. Why is this lucky? Well, Myburgh (2018) is probably the only article to fact-check the fact-checkers, and they’re wrong. As Myburgh points out:

If TAU SA’s numbers are right you are thus looking at an overall murder rate for the white farming population of around 51,2 per 100 000 (1.6 times the national average) and of “white farmers” alone of around 108 per 100 000 (3.2 times the national average.)

To be fair, he does point out how looking at the average distorts the fact that the East part or the West part of South Africa can be less or more safe, so he goes onto breaking it down by an East/ West divide (more farm murders happen in the East). After analyzing the data, he comes a conclusion:

The above all suggests that there is ample evidence that white farmers, particularly in the east of the country, are being “targeted” at an extraordinarily high rate. This is especially so if you make the most appropriate like-for-like comparison when it comes to the type of murder. Indeed, it is difficult to see what could possibly have motivated reputable “fact-checking” websites to go out and insist on the contrary.

James also shared his information with a reporter from the Washington Post who fact-checked Trump, and it didn’t go well for the Washington Post reporter. James has also written an article on the history of South Africa’s farm murders. Some may say that farm murders have been decreasing, but this figures come from SAP, and past SAP studies contradict their current claims. The number of farm murders increased from 58 murders (not 49) in 519 incidents (not 419 incidents) in 2015 and 2016; to 74 murders (not 66) in 638 (not 478) incidents in 2016 and 2017.

There is no “white genocide” per se, but evidence gathered does suggest that white farmers in the east are being targeted at a high rate. Despite what “fact-checkers” may say, evidence does support what Trump says and this isn’t a Right wing conspiracy theory.I even decided to read an article Snopes wrote about South Africa, and it seems James and his work beat Snopes, too.

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