Posted by: Andries Louw | 31 August 2009

Ice-cold Coke in a shack

I have been visiting Alexandra sporadically over the past few months, getting to know the place and its people. Whenever I go there I’m looking for language helpers to work with me in my language-learning business. I’m also looking for non-Christians who might be interested in reading the Bible with me.

Alexandra is a township consisting of mainly poor and some middle class residents, living in small old houses, flats, shacks, new government-built RDP (Reconstruction and Development Programme) houses and some fairly new privately built houses.

The Michelangelo Towers in Sandton

One of the intriguing features of Alexandra is its location. It lies right next to Sandton on the west, the upmarket Johannesburg suburb, home to luxury hotels such as the Michelangelo Towers, the InterContinental  Sandton Towers and various multi-national corporations.

I love Linbro Park - Country Living in the City

Linbro Park - Country Living in the City

On the east the township is bordered by the N3 highway and right next to  that is Linbro Park Agricultural Holdings where we live. We are renting a house on a small holding, one of five dwellings on the property. Many of the residents here ride horses and they drive around with bumper stickers saying “I love Linbro Park – Country Living in the City”.

I am currently reading a fascinating book about the history of Alex which explains this rather odd location of the Black township, slap bang in the middle of White suburbia. I will blog about that later.

Two weeks ago I took my family on a drive through Alex. It was Sunday afternoon around 16:00 and everywhere small groups of people were walking with Bibles. We also saw a large group of Independent African Church members making their way up a hill in their white and green attire.

We parked our car on the pavement next to a shack. Less then five minutes after we started walking we were invited for cold-drink. A young lady with a big smile wanted to know what we were doing here. We told her that we came to visit our neighbours because we live just across the highway. “But then you must come inside!” she said.

Children play in the narrow spaces between shacks

Cecile, Marisje, Andiswa and Anelia outside the shack we were invited into

Her shack was about the size of one of our two bathrooms. Within seconds she had a one litre bottle of ice-cold Coke and was pouring it into glasses. I don’t know where it came from but the speed at which she had it ready was pretty impressive. Then Anelia, our four-year old daughter asked “Where do you keep your food?” We all burst out laughing. She didn’t ask the question out of curiosity but because she was hungry.

Cecile asked our guest if she had a tissue for the baby. She replied: “No, but let me quickly go and buy one.” We said “No, that’s not necessary” but a little later she was back with a roll of toilet paper.

Like so many previous occasions of visiting people living in simple conditions, this was once again a humbling experience for me. In my next post I will write about our second family visit to Alex. The new header image on my blog was taken during that visit, which was last week Sunday.

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Responses

  1. Thanks for posting this, Andries. Your post can be a useful antidone to this nonsense: Notes from underground: SA white gets refugee status in Canada

  2. I just read your post as well as the follow-up article, Steve. I would love to have more detail about the issue. I find it very strange that a claim could be made that a young white South African would stand out like a sore thumb anywhere in the country, so much so that he would have to be accepted as a refugee in Canada.

  3. It strikes me that sticking out like a sore thumb is not so simple a concept. Andries Louw found that one might just get a tenderly-applied bandage from someone who knows what it is to hurt. Places where I have “stuck out” — such as a small Iranian town, or a mountain village in India, or in the middle of Soweto — I’ve come away all doctored up, so to speak.

  4. Well said Alexander! What has been highlighted again by the Canadian incident as well as some of the reactions I’ve picked up in the South Africa media is that we still have a lot of hurt in this country. And people need healing, especially some white people.

    We can’t close our eyes to the realities of crime. If this man was indeed attacked, it is unacceptable. But to then run to Canada, apply for refugee status and get it is absurd. It suggests that South Africa is a place where whites are being attacked and terrorised by blacks on a large scale.

    What does this short-sighted reaction do for our image as hosts of next year’s FIFA world cup?

    Our crime situation is much more complex than suggested by this incident. We often have white criminals running crime syndicates with blacks doing the dirty work. Plus many black people are victims of crime.

    Violent crimes are often domestic in nature which means that for international tourists South Africa is not necessarily more dangerous than other travel destinations.

    We need to share more stories of what is really going on in this beautiful country. There is so much to celebrate and to work on!

  5. WwAwR: Why we Are white Refugees:
    » LETTERS: Email Letters sent to Canadian Government, Media blogged by email.
    » NEWS ARTICLES: White Refugee Main Stream News Stories….
    » BLOGGER OPEDS: Blogger OpEd Opinions on White Refugee Issues.
    » READER OPEDS: Reader OpED White Refugee Opinions, blogged by email.
    » REFERENCE: Why We Are White Refugee’s:
    » Null & Void Social Contract: » Race War * Crime * Corruption * Farm Murders * Rape * Genocide *

  6. Dear WwAwR, I have approved your comment which is not really a comment but just a link to your blog containing some headlines.

    I am inviting you to write a comment here so we can engage in a debate about this important issue. I have read some of the posts on your blog and agree with you that we have a serious crime situation in South Africa. I agree that the government is failing to protect its citizens against criminals. I further agree that many white people are victims of violent crimes, crimes that are often committed by blacks.

    But here’s where I disagree: I disagree with the perception created on your blog that white people are the only victims of crime in this country. I disagree that there is a genocide, an ethnic cleansing, as alleged by the Boerevolk Organisation on your blog.

    You seem to overlook the reality that many black, indian and coloured people are also victims of crime. An over-simplified racial analysis does not help us to move forward in the fight against crime. It only serves to deepen the racial divide.

    Unless we get away from the racially defined “us” vs “them” thinking in South Africa, we will not win the war on crime. It is not a matter of blacks attacking whites. Rather it is a matter of criminals attacking citizens. Blacks form the majority of the population hence they form the majority of the criminal population.

    If I as a white person were a victim of crime I would prefer to think of the other non-white SA crime victims as fighting on my side against the criminals. Your analysis alienates non-white crime victims.

    Could you explain to me how an approach that suggests that the black people of South Africa are out to kill the white people, can help us solve our crime problem?

  7. Andries..

    Okay, I copied your comment above, to the link on the WwAwR… as I will my subsequent comment… , in answer to the issues you raise…

  8. Okay… we agree, we have a serious crime issue.

    We agree, the goverment is failing to protect its citizens against criminals.

    You further agree that many white people are victims of violent crimes, crimes that are often committed by blacks.

    You say ‘often’, I would say predominantly.

    Your perception that whites are the only victims of crime in RSA, is incorrect; we do not in the least deny that blacks are victims of crime, at all. See for example, here and here.. [Unlike the many who deny the extent of crime committed against farmers, we do not deny that there is massive crime against blacks.]

    You disagree that there is an ethnic cleansing. Okay, you can disagree; I can agree to disagree. The question is how much do you disagree, just enough to sit around and chat on a blog, or enough to go out, into the criminal jsutice system, into the prison system, to see how it functions in the belly of the beast, to analyse it, from brutal reality experience. To listen and observe what goes on in South aFricas Universities of Crime Prisons…

    So, just depends on how serious you are about your opinion, and what it is founded upon and such things..

    Again, your opinion that I overlook the reality that many black, indian etc people are also victims of crime… is an incorrect assumption.

    I am unclear what you are trying to say by “An over-simplified racial analysis does not help us to move forward in the fight against crime. It only serves to deepen the racial divide.”

    What do you conclude is my ‘oversimplifed analysis’, and are you sure, you have not oversimplified your analysis, of what my analysis is?

    As for winning the war on crime.. dream on friend.. Crime is a direct and indirect result of overpopulation colliding with scarce and depleted resources; and your darling goverment is paying poor blacks to breed more poverty and more crime… so good luck with your illusions of winning hte war on crime.. until they give up breeding poverty and criminal resource war cannon fodder..

    You state, as if you know, or is it only your opinion, that “It is not a matter of blacks attacking whites.”

    Put differenlty, to how many black criminals who attacked murdered, raped and/or robbed whites have you spoken to, or listened to, when they spoke frankly about their racial motivations?

    Or is this simply your fantasy non-racist opinion?

    “Rather it is a matter of criminals attacking citizens.”

    As I said in my post… Andre, spend a year in a South African prison incognito and then come back and we can talk further..

    “Blacks form the majority of the population hence they form the majority of the criminal population.”

    Who said anythign about the majority of criminal population… I was talking only about the criminal population whose crimes involved white victims…

    “If I as a white person were a victim of crime I would prefer to think of the other non-white SA crime victims as fighting on my side against the criminals.”

    Good luck…. If or where I find such ones, I am happy to form a coalition with them… if their word is their word, and they pull their own weight, and they aren’t two faced back stabbers. Same applies to whites.., or any colour..

    My analysis only alienates individuals with fragile egos, who prefer walking on egg shells language, and can’t handle a spade being called a spade…

    If they want to choose to be alienated by frank language, and opinions.. then that is THEIR CHOICE. they may be conscious they made the choice to feel insulted or they may project hteir reasons on others..

    You think blacks and coloureds need to be treated with kids gloves… like they are some glorified special kind of idiots or noble savages.. I treat them like they are any other person.. They get no special treatment from me.. they get judged upon their character, and whether they walk their talk… I am not interested in creating some bullshit codependent relationships, just so i can feel good about myself being some white person who is poor kaffiertjies saviour… Kaffertjie wants me to treat him like he is a human being.. with critical thinking faculties etc.. so I do… He gets not special treatment.. that is the highest respect I give anyone and Everyone; to judge them on the quality of their character. If that is not good enough for him.. Tough fucking luck.. he can run to Andries and get Andries to be his big white papa…

    “Could you explain to me how an approach that suggests that the black people of South Africa are out to kill the white people, can help us solve our crime problem?”

    If it is the truth, which it is for a significant number of black criminals (not all blacks certainly)… then you can only really deal with any problem, once you are willing to confront it, in its starkest reality.

    ‘Truth and reconciliation’ was a bullshit dog and pony show.. a lie, a fraud.. I wish I was wrong. I belived it like everyone else.. I was lucky to believe it so much I made such commitments to it, that, unlike those who did not.. they could go along with the illusions. My commitment was so great.. I was forced to confront reality. It wasn’t pretty, but I did.

    The hypocrisy and lies.. that TRC deception created, is the puss in the crime and hate and racism problem that South Africa faces.. Where whites and blacks feel compelled to walk on egg shells and to be ultra politically correct.. and if you have a brutal honest conversation.. they all hate it. Those with the capability of honest self reflection, who are not too mind bezonked with holding hands and goombajaa crap.

    So, if you are serious about: “Could you explain to me how an approach that suggests that the black people of South Africa are out to kill the white people, can help us solve our crime problem?”

    Try this “Population Policy Common Sense Social Contract” booklet.. and when you done.. let me kow what you think… 😉

    Lara

  9. Lara, thank you for your comment. Sorry for not responding earlier. I have been away from my computer for a few days.

    The first two links you posted were cited as examples of your not denying that black people are also victims of crime. The first link relates an incident of seven juvenile female prisoners high on marijuana, assaulting a fellow prisoner. The report doesn’t state that she was black so I assume you imply that she was black.

    In the second link national police commissioner Bheki Cele is quoted as saying: “My house was broken into and some stuff was taken… and I remain black. Surely, my house was never broken into because I am black”. Are you agreeing with Cele? These two obscure examples don’t seem to support your claim very well that you don’t deny that blacks are also victims of crime.

    What is the point of your blog? Please correct me if I am wrong, but it seems to me that you are trying to say that the real victims of crime in South Africa are whites and that most of the crimes against white people are racially motivated. You are also supporting Brandon Huntley’s claim that white South Africans are refugees, that they are not being attacked because of criminal motivations but rather because of racial hatred.

    You said: “Who said anything about the majority of criminal population… I was talking only about the criminal population whose crimes involved white victims… ”. If you are only referring to a section of the criminal population – those whose victims are white and whose crimes are racially motivated – then how do you arrive at the conclusion that white South Africans should be treated as refugees?

    I haven’t seen any evidence presented by you that the white population of South Africa is being physically attacked en masse by the black population of South Africa. Please correct me if I missed it. Rather you seem to be saying that crimes against whites are predominantly committed by blacks and that many of these crimes are racially motivated.

    In response to my question, “Could you explain to me how an approach that suggests that the black people of South Africa are out to kill the white people, can help us solve our crime problem?”, you replied: “If it is the truth, which it is for a significant number of black criminals (not all blacks certainly)… then you can only really deal with any problem, once you are willing to confront it, in its starkest reality.”

    Once again you are not referring to black people in general but only to a section of the black criminal population. What I mean by your over-simplified racial analysis is that you seem to work with a logic that runs as follows: Most crimes against whites are committed by blacks. Many of these crimes are racially motivated. Therefore all white South Africans should be considered refugees. Have I over-simplified my analysis of your analysis? If yes, please explain.

    I fail to see how you can jump from the first two statements to your conclusion that whites are refugees. It seems to me that the only way you can do that is to focus almost exclusively on the racially motivated crimes against whites. Well, maybe our crime situation is just a little more complicated than that.

    Let me be clear: every single crime committed is one crime too many, whether it is racially motivated or not and racism doesn’t only come from white people but also from black people. And all racism is unacceptable, no matter where it comes from.

    Last week Redi Direko interviewed Barbara Holtmann on 702. She is a safety and security researcher at the CSIR. The podcast of the interview can be found here:

    Redi asked Barbara whether certain race groups are more vulnerable than others when it comes to crime in South Africa. She replied: “I think defintely poor people, and in this country that means overwhelmingly people who are not white, are much more vulnerable to crime than others.”

    She referred to a comparitive between rape and murder statistics between Claremont, Park View, Alexandra, Mitchell’s Plain and Ivory Park in 2008. In Claremont there were 8 rapes, in Alex 133, Mitchell’s Plain 168, Ivory Park 128 and Park View 6. For murder the numbers were 3 in Claremont, 101 in Alex, 57 in Mitchell’s Plain, 69 in Ivory Park and 7 in Park View.

    In her view the explanation for this is the high spend on private security in the suburbs which in turn leads to a higher rate of armed robberies in the suburbs because the criminals must be able to overcome the armed private security firms.

    She also said that property crimes, e.g. house-breakings, are aimed at getting the most possible value out of the incident. So if you are living in a very poor community next to a community that is perceived to have a lot of cash or goods, then you would target those areas.

    Redi asked if it is about socio-economics, why then is there so much violence and brutallity involved? Barbara responded that it’s not necessarily as simple as that. She argued that the decades of social engineering under the apartheid system completely fragmented the family as a unit. So what you have is children who grow up with violence as the norm and communities where violence is the norm and where violence was almost institutionalised for generations. So violent responses to anger, to frustration, to a sense of loss, to not having things – violence is the solution for many people that they learn at knee-high.

    She said that it is here, in the families, where crime prevention has to start and that perhaps we need more social workers rather than more policemen.

    I am not going into the criminal justice system nor into the prison system at the moment. Maybe I should do that. But here’s my little contribution so far. In 1995/96 I was living in a commune with three other friends. Young idealistic bachelors that we were, we took two drug addicts into our house, hoping to help them recover. Incidentally they were white. They were arrested by the police for posession of marijuana while driving my car. Later they stole my friend’s car and left with a large amount of cash. Not a very successful story but we tried. When the one guy came out of jail he told us some stories of what happens in jail.

    Currently my wife and I are fostering a baby girl whose mother disappeared. Giving an abandoned child a home is one way of trying to prevent criminal behaviour later in life. I am also spending time in Alexandra, getting to know some people there, building my language learning business. One of the things I am trying to do is to get a better understanding of the crime situation.

    You say: “As for winning the war on crime.. dream on friend.. Crime is a direct and indirect result of over-population colliding with scarce and depleted resources; and your darling government is paying poor blacks to breed more poverty and more crime… ” I don’t regard the government as my darling. I have never said anything to that effect. In fact, I don’t have a lot of hope that the government will solve the crime problem.

    I haven’t suggested that I know how to win the war on crime either. I only said that we will not win that war unless we get away from the racially defined “us” vs “them” thinking. The more we think in the categories of “black people” vs “white people” – and that includes the government – the longer it will take us to move forward.

    Our problems are caused by criminals, whether they are black or white. Our problems are caused by corrupt officials and politicians, whether black or white. Our problems are caused by ordinary citizens who bribe corrupt officials and politicians, whether black or white. And the little sparks of hope for our country are caused by hard-working, honest citizens who refuse to be overcome by corruption, laziness and despair.

    If we as white South Africans choose to whine on about how we are being persecuted by blacks we choose to ignore the reality of millions of black, indian and coloured people who are making a positive contribution to society.

    You said: “You think blacks and Coloureds need to be treated with kids gloves… like they are some glorified special kind of idiots or noble savages..” What gives you that idea? I’ve said it a few times and I will say it again, it is not about blacks and whites. It is about criminals and honest people.

    I have had a look at the Population Policy Common Sense Social Contract booklet you recommended. I find it interesting that you are recommending it because it is all about forgiveness as a means to get rid of anger. It seems to me that you are angry about things that black people have done to you and to other white people. Are you promoting forgiveness?

  10. Andre,

    If that is your opinion… fine. No worries…

    If your fundamentalist beliefs are founded upon spending time listening to criminals be brutally honest with each other, about their intentions for why they committed their acts… for over a year, 18 hours a day… then I guess you know what you are talking about…

    If it is founded on your illusions of hoping you know what you are talking about… perhaps some humility may be in order, to others who have spent thousands of hours listening to crimainls themselves be brutally honest..

    Put your money where your mouth is Andre.. go spend a year in a prison, and then come back.. and we can talk again…

    If you cannot even be honest with yourself… how the hell do you expect me to take you serious…

    I ain’t got a problem if you want to live in some goombaja illusion… its your life.. by all means, enjoy it. I been there.. I have forgotten shit, you don’t even know exists…

    So, no big deal Andre… but I believe in liberty, but not enough to force it down your throat…

    As for your assumption that I am angry!

    Buddy… you obviously got some serious projections going on…. but hey, if they work for you.. no problem.

    Take care… hope all works out for you and your ’emergent church’

    Lara

  11. Lara, YOU ARE ANGRY!

    It seems it is only you who does not recognise it! You are in denial, you are suppressing it, disassociating from it. Do your friends, family, relationships and most importantly yourself a favour and deal with it! You can say it is only someone else’s projections but your words and phrases tell a different story. Whether you recognise it or not.

    You challenge Andries to spend time in prisons and talking to criminals. Fair enough. It sounds like it’s something you did but you don’t really say. Did you? Is that what made you so angry? And isn’t it so that most criminals do not get caught, so that there is a lot more going on that we will never hear avbout?

    Andries, ENOUGH SAID. You have stated your position and opinion clearly and eloquently, what you have both written is food for thought and action. Now I implore you to let it go, do not become embroiled in an online debate going back and forth with a person you have never met. There is a place for that and it has been done well here. But let’s leave it here. Why?

    BECAUSE THERE ARE REAL-LIFE RELATIONSHIPS WAITING TO HAPPEN, TO BE LOVED, NURTURED AND GIVEN ATTENTION TO IF WE EVER DREAM OF ATTACKING STEREOTYPES AND CRIME

  12. Lara,

    Websites and rants like yours scare me. Must I now run away and be scared because I am white? Or buy a gun and shoot back? What exactly do you propse? You do not give solutions or possible ways to attack the problem, you remind me how terrible my lot is and why I should hate and be afraid and run away. How does that help?

    And yes I have been a victim of crime, tied up in my own home with small children. But because I treated the criminals with RESPECT, YES RESPECT, speaking to them in their own language and adressing them respectfully we escaped serious injury. Maybe they did not deserve respect right then. But it did not make me bitter or angry.

    Telling people we are white refugees helps no-one and only assist in building a psyche of hate, fear and resentment. Why would you want to contribute to that?

    Cecile


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