Racism still alive in S. Africa- 16 years after Apartheid
By Hassan Isilow
CAPETOWN, When South Africa held its first democratic elections in 1994 ending the cruel era of Apartheid, the world thought racism had come to an end. But shockingly 16 years after the end of apartheid, racism has remained alive in the rainbow nation.
The country’s three main racial groupings; Black, White and the coloreds are still holding to their racial prejudice. For instance, in the Northern Cape, there is a small Town called Orania that’s occupied entirely by whites only.
“We are not re-creating apartheid in South Africa by having our own Town, but we are simply seeking to protect the Afrikaner Values” Carel Boshoff IV, leader of the Orania community and grandson to the late Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd (popularly known as the architect of Apartheid) told Africa witness in a telephone interview.
The small whites only Town, was built in the 1990’s towards the end of Apartheid and is located on the banks of the Orange River surrounded by extended areas of the Karoo. Orania is a small speck on the map in the desert like Karoo region, situated on the dusty banks of the Orange River in Northern Cape Province.
“This is intolerable. How can whites only have a Town in a multi-ethnic country like South Africa which is still recovering from Apartheid? This is a silent form of Apartheid” Mike Wadula an angry resident of Cape Town told Africa witness.
He said Government should intervene and stop the segregation in Orania. But Carel Boshoff IV, Orania’s boss said they are not racists.” “We don’t practice any form of racism in Orania, we are just protecting our Afrikaner culture which is under threat” Carel who is the son to the Town’s Founder told Africa witness.
He said non-whites can visit but will have to stay in the Town’s guesthouse, adding anybody wishing to move into Orania has to first be approved by the managing body. In Orania, poor whites are employed to do menial jobs formerly meant for blacks during the Apartheid era.
Whites only graveyard
Orania is not the only racist Town in South Africa. In the Western Cape, there is another small Town called Swellendam which still maintains some Apartheid policies. In Swellendam whites have their own cemetery and non-whites are not allowed to be buried there. However, in June 2010, history was re-written when a seven year old daughter of a peasant farm worker was forcefully buried in the white’s only cemetery causing uproar among the conservative white community.
“This Town is so racist. A lot still needs to be done for People to change their ideology of hatred” Ali Kaka told Africa witness.
He revealed that the fight between races in the small Swellendam Town is far from over. “ it’s a pity that whites in this Town still consider themselves as superior compared to others” the Asian trader told Africa witness.
Racism at Universities
Racial discrimination remains widespread at most South African universities, despite many policies aimed at redressing the bitter legacy of Apartheid. In 2008 four students at the University of Free State made a racist video that created an international uproar. While during the same year in April, it was reported that black students at the University of Johannesburg had allegedly been assaulted by their white counterparts while at a university bar.
Xolani Mkhwemnte chairperson of the South African Students’ Congress told the Johannesburg based Star newspaper that black students at the university’s Kingsway campus had been beaten by white students in a bar at a hall of residence. He said the harassment of black students walking home at night and the verbal and physical abuse of senior black student members had become common.
While in Cape Town, Mohammed Bulhan, a second year student of information technology at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology cries foul. “Students in my class are divided along racial lines; whites sit alone, blacks alone and coloreds. I’m a foreign student, so I’m left in a dilemma on which group to choose” he told Africa witness
Bulhan also claims some students don’t want him to join their academic discussion groups because of his race. “I’m bright in class but I was shocked when I joined a certain discussion group and racist students told me to delete my name from their discussion group” the demoralized foreign student recalls.
On the other hand, White students are also affected by racism, In January 2007, Ernst Roets spokesperson of the organization Solidarity Youth ,was quoted by the South African Press Association (sapa) saying “White students were being overlooked in favor of poorly achieving black students in the awarding of bursaries”
Ernst said Universities were also discriminating against white students, denying them entry although they did better than their black counterparts.
“We have proof of instances in which white students with excellent results were refused entry in favor of black students with greatly inferior marks,” he told the South African Press Association (Sapa)
He named the University of Pretoria as one of the universities discriminating against white students.
An official at the South African institute of race relations, which is the leading independent research and policy organization in South Africa, told Africa witness, that racial discrimination will take some time before it completely fades out, since it started in 1652 with the arrival of the Dutch settlers.
“Racism is a reality in this country and it will take a pretty long time to finally end since it started in 1652” he said.
Additional information obtained from SAPA