Racial tensions grip Limpopo dorpie

Notwithstanding the idealised vision of a Rainbow Nation, racial intolerances between marginalised blacks and right-wing whites in the deserted town of Groblersdal will not separate easily, much like the Siamese twins who were born joined at the hips.

In the Sekhukhune district of Limpopo, this rural community located in the Elias Motswaledi municipality has seen racial disintegration for the umpteenth time since the 1930s.

The reported racial attack on a black farm security guard by two white farmers this past week proved that racial tensions in this town are still very much alive.

A small town under attack by racial prejudice is suggested by the recent incident involving white famers Piet Groenewald, 63, and 27-year-old Stephen Greeff, who are accused of assaulting a black security guard named Veneruru Kavari, 30.

The guard is said to have suffered serious injuries on both legs when the two attacked him with a heavy object and a menacing dog during the altercation.

Greeff allegedly accused the guard of reporting for duty while intoxicated, which is when the confrontation happened.

When the charges against Greeff and Groenewald were upgraded to attempted murder, the situation became more serious.

Following their arrest by the local police, their detention rekindled the race war, with the black community calling for their incarceration and the white community uniting in support of the accused.

Following a standoff between the Afrikaner community and the police, Groblersdal turned into a combat zone on Wednesday last week, during Groenewald and Greeff’s court appearance at the Groblersdal magistrate’s court.

Although it was discovered that the defendants were not first-time offenders and had prior convictions for attempted murder, Greeff’s charges were temporarily dropped while a ballistic report was being released.

On January 31, the two will be back in court to make their bail application.

Their supporters arrived in droves, dressed in the traditional khakhi farm attire. They waved the Vierkleur, the flag of the old Transvaal Republic, around the streets as they heartily sang Afrikaans folk songs.

They also sang De la Rey, De la Rey sal jy die Boere kom lei… (a plea to Boer war hero General Koos De la Rey (1847-1914) to come lead the Afrikaaners again). As the altercation continued, teargas was thrown towards the police.

Colonel Malesela Ledwaba, the spokesperson for the provincial police, has confirmed that an assault and public violence case has been initiated against a member of the white audience who was taken into custody right away.

They were simply not in the mood, and the presence of ANC and EFF activists made their tempers flare, even when the police’s tactical response team attempted to explain to them why they could not take the courthouse in its entirety.

Since the Transvaal era, Groblersdal has constantly teetered on the verge of total political collapse, and the arrival of democracy in 1994 has not resulted in any significant adjustments to the sociopolitical structure of this town.

Marcelle Maritz, the regional leader of Freedom Front Plus, stated that the old flags had nothing to do with racism but show support for the farmers.

ANC Sekhukhune regionalsecreatary Sam Owane condemned the incident.

“These behaviours, which transport us back to the apartheid era, are alarming. The horrors our black people endured during the height of apartheid are
painfully brought to memory by these banners.”

Cosatu provincial secretary Hangwani Mashau said: “We came here to attend the court proceedings in the name of justice for a fellow worker who is the victim of a racist attack, and now we are startled to see people gathering in big numbers to support wrongdoers.

“Justice is missing from this situation. Racism in public is not a good sign for a harmonious society.”

Ali Maloba, the regional chairperson of the EFF in Sekhukhune said: “We are prepared to fight tooth and nail to ensure that racism is driven out of Groblersdal. We will continue to protest outside court to ensure that these racists don’t get bail and rot in jail.”

The racist attack on youngster Kopano Makweng on June 15, 2022, at a fish and chips store by Corrie Pretorius, has been painfully remembered by the recent event.

Pretorius was seen dragging the adolescent around on the ground during the graphic incident, which was caught on camera and went viral on social media.

In addition, he was observed kicking and stomping on the helpless boy while pointing a gun at the adolescent.

Pretorius received a penalty of R12,000 in fines or 12 months in prison after entering a guilty plea to his actions.

Black people, said Marius Jantjies, a farmer owner in Groblersdal, are likewise prejudiced and believe that because they live in a democracy, they may do as they please.

“We are oppressed in this country as though we don’t belong here. We are also victims here. Certain accusations made by attention-seekers are untrue.”

The Bolshevik Party, meanwhile, claimed it had written to Limpopo’s Public Protector’s office to express its disapproval of the bigotry exhibited by white farmers.

Party leader Seun Mogotji said: “This episode has the potential to further feed the already unacceptable racial tensions between the white Afrikaner community and black agricultural labourers.

“We were astonished to see a sizeable contingent of Afrikaner farmers openly carrying lethal weapons and hoisting the former apartheid banner as they marched through the town. These behaviours exhibit blatant disregard for the rule of law and very little regard for the police and the constitution.”

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