My Open Letter to BBC’s John Simpson

I could be wrong and I hope I am not, but I suspect you must have received hundreds of emails this week – many of them from angry black South Africans following your “Do white people have a future in South Africa?article. Well, accept my open letter too, while you’re at it…

John Simpson, you correctly state apartheid looked after white people and nobody else. It is further true, as you were told, that the very same white people are still riding high than their us blacks. For them, being white works magic because that is seen some kind of seniority. Many have continued to claim white people are the weakest and the most vulnerable South Africans. Well, if you heard that from AfriForum, I am not surprised. But yes, while they are the minority, I however would like to differ that they are as vulnerable as AfriForum portrays them to be. In fact, the opposite is true.

Just as there are white squatter camps, I don’t know why that is a surprise to you and AfriForum’s Ernst Roets as if such are only meant for us blacks. In fact, I urge you to do more traveling around the country than you did when you wrote that nonsense on a (respected?) platform like BBC. But who knows, maybe that’s the mission that you were sent down here to accomplish because your piece was not only bias but that it smacked of white pity. Moreover, it sought to portray us black people as far better off now that we were when white people ruled during apartheid during which our lives were seen as inferior compared to a white person’s.

A recent analysis by the South African Institute of Race Relations is proof that you sure have a helluva way to go and learn about this country, especially our racial history. The institute dispelled many whites’ perceptions – like those you interviewed, including Roets’ – that they had a tough time after the 1994 dispensation.

It further noted that 75% of them had a matric qualification and just 10% had higher education and that by last year almost all of their children passed matric while 60% of those aged 20 to 24 were enrolled for higher education. “The comparative figures are that fewer than 50% of black children are going on to pass matric and only 14% of those aged 20 to 24 are currently enrolled for higher education. This despite the fact that the white share of total tertiary enrolment has dropped from roughly 40% to 20% since 1994, while the black share has increased to 65%”, it said.

Between 1994 and last year the rate of unemployment among white people had increased from 3% to 5.7%, according to the research. While this was significant, it however acknowledged that the actual rate remained remarkably low by national standards. This when considering the number of black South Africans, about 29% last year, who were unemployed. As a result, us black people are actually five times more likely to be unemployed, according to the report. “The white unemployment rate was low, even when compared to a host of international benchmarks. In the US, for example, the rate in 2012 was 7.6%, in Britain 7.9% and in Canada 7.2%.”

Lastly, you also noted that white farmers were more twice likely to be murdered than the police. While I sympathise with this – whether it is true or not and it depends on the source – we however cannot expect government to treat the life of a white person more important than that of a black person. Many people have died and been killed before and at no stage have blacks – the majority in this country, need I remind you – asked their murder be declared a crisis as white people want theirs. No, it can’t be. Just as the constitution says, we are all equal before the law and must be treated as such.

That white farmers have been murdered more than the police seems to insinuate they were killed because they were white. This, assertion, however, was also dispelled by the institute’s Lucy Holborn in early March last year that: “There is no evidence to suggest that farm attacks, or crime with white victims in general, is motivated by race. In fact, there is research to suggest quite the opposite. Data compiled by Agri SA and the police and published by the Institute in 2003 found that 89% of farm attacks were motivated by robbery, while only 2% were motivated by race. This data is admittedly now relatively old (and the police no longer collect such data), but there is not sufficient evidence to suggest that this pattern has changed dramatically.”

Mine is not to imply white people deserve to suffer today because of what they had done to us. No. Not at all. But what I am however against is your insinuation and portrayal of us blacks – or even the ruling black-led ANC – subjecting white people to what the majority were subjected to during apartheid. As for whether they have a future here in SA or not – well, that’s for them to decide but just don’t portray poverty #ABlackThing and #NotWhiteThing.


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