Coming Apart at the Seams

Today I begin emailing this to government officials, media figures and members of civil society worldwide:

South Africa is on the verge of coming apart at the seams, and this is not just hype before their elections next year.

These deeply-rooted seams are related to different approaches to society; the roots are:

a) ethnic/cultural (but portrayed as racial),
b) political,
c) economic,
d) lawful/civil vs. criminal/corrupt.

The “Rainbow Nation” has a motto, “Unity in Diversity”, but the reality stemming from this diversity is far different.

A confluence of several factors is causing this:

1) incredible crime, now made much worse by significant heroin trafficking;
2) corruption so bad it is called “state capture”, where government institutions are harnessed to serve private and criminal ends;
3) “Farm Attacks”, which
a) began during the insurgency in the Apartheid era,
b) have driven three quarters of South Africa’s white farmers out of business during the post-Apartheid era,
c) constitute a de facto ethnic cleansing even as they impact food supply and food prices,
d) are the cutting edge of a growing ethnic (“racial”) divide;
as well as
4) failed socialist and communist policies, most recently including the drive to “expropriate without compensation” (= “take without paying”, legalized theft) farmland (and anything else).

I will address each of these items in turn, providing links for information; however, I encourage you to take a moment and find your own sources to verify that my comments on these topics accurately reflect the reality and gravity of the situation.

1) Crime and heroin

South Africa has always had a high crime rate. The murder rate is high: on average, the national murder rate compares favorably (just barely!) to many war zones (MUCH more favorably than Syria). However, some precincts are worse; for example, Philippi East, a township of Cape Town, has a murder rate estimated at 323.4 per 100,000, making it nearly six times more dangerous than Afghanistan, and significantly more dangerous than Syria:

In addition to being a murder capital, South Africa is a rape capital; it is getting so bad that a deputy minister had to warn everyone to ensure tourists do not get sexually assaulted.

The crime is now being fueled by heroin.

The world’s heroin production is centered in Afghanistan these days; most of it goes to Europe. Due to interdiction efforts elsewhere, an increasing amount is going via the “Southern Route”, through the Indian Ocean. South Africa is becoming a major transshipment point for many reasons: it has excellent infrastructure, good trade with the rest of the world, and solid financial networks, all of which enable movement of contraband and laundering of drug money.

Being a transshipment point results in increased availability of heroin on the street within South Africa.

There (and elsewhere on the continent) heroin is mixed with other drugs, such as cannabis, and these concoctions are known in different jurisdictions by different names: whoonga, nyaope, sugars. Many people who are aware of a drug problem within their community do not realize that they are all dealing with Afghan heroin.

Addicts get money for drugs through street crime, and this drives the crime rate up higher than it normally is (which is high). Also, while under the influence, they commit crimes they might not otherwise commit, and the level of barbarity increases, as well.

Finally, gangs fighting over the trafficking and distribution of heroin also fuel the violent crime rate. The presence of foreign criminal gangs then, in turn, helps fuel xenophobic attitudes which themselves have in the past resulted in outbreaks of violence against immigrants from other parts of Africa who arrive in search of jobs.

In the face of all this, South African police can’t even protect themselves. For 2017, they lost 160 police killed in the line of duty (from a total South African population of 57 million people).

By comparison, the US lost 128 officers in the line of duty in 2017 (a drop from the previous year with 143 deaths), from a population of 325 million.

For police, that’s over seven times as dangerous in South Africa as in the USA for 2017; if we compare South Africa 2017 with the US in 2016 (when we had not experienced a drop), the rate is still over six times as high.

2) Corruption and “state capture”

Corruption in South Africa is rampant.

South Africa is now dealing with “state capture”, where illicit and criminal activity actually take over the government apparatus and bend government services to serve criminal interests.

Considering the growing influence of Afghan heroin moving along the “Southern Route” to Europe, and taking it in the context of corruption and “state capture”, South Africa could be on its way to becoming a “narcostate”.

This is happening in a country where the unemployment rate hovers a little above 25 percent.

That’s one quarter of the population getting by on about $1.25 USD a day.

About five million people (nearly all blacks) are in squatters’ camps, though if you do an internet search, the information returned is usually about whites in the camps. The fact that there are 385 blacks in such “informal settlements” for each white in such a place helps fuel resentment on the part of many blacks that internet searches make it look like it’s all whites in the camps.

3) In this context, we should discuss the Farm Attack phenomenon.

During the days of Apartheid, the African National Congress (ANC, now the ruling party) was led by Nelson Mandela in the direction of communist ideology. They established a military wing, the MK, of which Mandela was chairman. This militant wing began a campaign of indiscriminate bombings, and went so far as to place landmines in rural areas.

These things were considered war crimes at the time.

The landmines had to end, because so many of the people being killed were black Africans, whom the ANC claimed to be trying to liberate. Mandela sought to steer the military actions in the direction of sabotage, because he felt this had the best chance of success and the best chance of reconciliation afterwards; it was for this sabotage that he was imprisoned.

During this insurgency, the ANC and MK declared commercial farms (owned by people of European descent, so-called “whites”) to be military targets, and commenced a campaign of attacks on them: “Farm Attacks”.

Deliberately targeting civilian farmers was also a war crime, but of course the insurgents were feted as “liberating” South Africa and, in any case, the winner decides who gets tried and for what.

After Apartheid ended and Mandela was elected President, the Farm Attacks continued; some genies just won’t go back into their bottle once they’ve been summoned. President Mandela recognized the serious impact on South Africa’s economy, including on food security, and prioritized these farm attacks.

Note that Farm Attacks have been defined as a special category of crime, aside from workplace or domestic violence or other “social fabric” crimes.

During Mandela’s tenure as President of South Africa, South Africa’s military included a militia component known as the “Commando System”. The Commando System had roots going way back in South Africa’s history, even before the Apartheid era, but it was maintained in the post-Apartheid military organization. Commandos kept military-grade weapons at their rural homes, enabling them to respond quickly to crises, and allowing an intrinsic self-defense capability in the farm areas. The Commandos also served as a police auxiliary, and even in the post-Apartheid era, conducted tens of thousands of missions assisting law enforcement.

Mandela saw the Commando System as a key feature of rural security to address the Farm Attacks, and encouraged people – especially white Boer farmers (see below) – to join.

Looking at the Commando System in the post-Mandela era, it was determined that it should be disbanded, but NOT UNTIL a follow-on could be deployed.

Despite this recommendation, the system was dismantled beginning in 2003, over warnings of the main opposition political party, the Democratic Alliance, that doing so would be a disaster.

By 2008, it had been phased out, supposedly to be replaced by specialized police units, which never actually appeared. This left rural farmers particularly vulnerable to Farm Attacks.

Meanwhile, the South African government deprioritized Farm Attacks, going so far as to stop publishing statistics on them. This had the effect of leaving these crimes mixed in with the aggregated crime statistics, so people couldn’t see what was going on. We only know what has been happening because the private sector, including agriculture and civil rights activists, have continued to monitor the phenomenon.

The result was this: government policies left rural farming communities more endangered, at the same time that government policies also made the crimes against them harder to monitor.

Please let that last statement sink in. Taken together with the fact that it was the ANC that began the farm attacks, and that the ANC made these decisions, these facts establish a pattern of conduct on the part of some elements of South Africa’s ruling political party, the ANC: leave the Boer farmers vulnerable, allow them to be brutally and terroristically attacked, and cover the whole thing up.

Scholarly research into the Farm Attack phenomenon shows that its motivation seems to be one of intimidation. Research by Cristopher Gumbi (notice spelling of the first name) demonstrated this.

Based on my own research, there are some criminal assaults on rural farms that appear to be “normal” crime. However, the Farm Attacks are a distinct phenomenon; the attackers are 1) well-equipped, 2) well-trained, and 3) execute their attacks with a degree of precision characteristic of military units. Furthermore, there is 4) gratuitous violence – barbaric torture (I will spare you the details) – going far beyond anything that would be needed to coerce victims into cooperating, often lasting for hours (and even days!) after valuables have been taken, and sexual assault that goes beyond anything that could be considered opportunistic rape. Finally, 5) what is stolen is of small value, often less than $20 US, which in no way compensates for the money it takes to buy state-of-the-art cell phone and radio jammers used in the attacks, or to pay for a vehicle to wait at an exfiltration point, or which could satisfy the skilled mercenaries who would be needed to conduct these attacks.

In my opinion, it would take the resources of a transnational criminal cartel, or of a national government, to conduct such a coordinated campaign of terroristic intimidation.

The South African government knows this, and has been aware of it for decades. Yet, the problem has not been effectively dealt with; rather, it appears such crime is being enabled.

The rate of violent death of white commercial farmers in South Africa is about twice the rate of violent death for South African police.

It is noteworthy that the third most powerful political party in parliament, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), was established and is led by a man who used to lead the ANC’s Youth League (ANCYL), Julius Malema. Malema and his people received military-style training at South African military bases about eight years ago.

Malema wears a military-style uniform, calls himself the “commander in chief”, and is known for singing songs about shooting the Boer (who are the white farmers). Malema has pushed for “expropriation without compensation” and the ruling ANC is now in the process of amending the constitution to do just this; however, concerns exist that it is not just land that will be taken, but that the proposed amendment will allow anything – bank deposits, intellectual property – to be “expropriated” (see below).

The history of the Boer farmers is interesting (and this part is based on documents, not all of which are available online). When Europeans first arrived in the 1600’s, they encountered Khoi, who were nomads, and San, who were hunter-gatherers; these people are reminiscent of Australian aborigines. Boer is a Dutch and Afrikaans word meaning “farmer”; it refers to people who emigrated from Europe to these colonies in South Africa, and then to those who left the Cape Colony area when South Africa came under British control during the Napoleonic era, migrating to the northeast of what is now the Republic of South Africa.

This happened as the Zulu were moving down into the area from farther north. The Zulu were conducting a genocidal conquest of the region. Often, the Boer moved into areas that had been depopulated; many native people either fled from the advancing Zulu, or had been killed. Many of the remaining peoples found an ally with the Boer, who helped defend against further Zulu conquest. As a result, the Boer occupied 1) land that was vacant, either because it had never been inhabited, or because its inhabitants had been killed or had left fleeing the Zulu; 2) land that they procured from neighboring peoples, often exchanging cattle for it (and these people were frequently happy to have the Boer as a buffer between themselves and the Zulu); and 3) land taken from the Zulu through conquest during a defensive war.

One incident of note illustrates the situation: Zulu King Dingane asked the Voortrekker leader Piet Retief to retrieve some stolen cattle, and in return the Voortrekkers would receive land. The Voortrekkers complied, and then agreed to a treaty granting them farmland. They were then invited to a celebration, and were asked to leave their weapons behind; at the celebration, the Zulus treacherously slaughtered the unarmed Voortrekkers. The Zulus then went on the offensive, massacring more Boer in a camp nearby. In the subsequent Battle of the Blood River, 15,000 Zulu warriers attacked 470 Voortrekkers, but the Zulus suffered a crushing defeat.

Regardless of the history nearly two centuries ago, all people whose families have lived in what is now the Republic of South Africa for generations are Africans – some of European descent, some of Asian descent, but Africans nonetheless – and are citizens of South Africa; they have intrinsic human rights and deserve equal protection before the law.

That notwithstanding, people of European descent are too often referred to as “settlers” in a very clear effort to delegitimize them as Africans and as citizens of the “Rainbow Nation” and to set the stage for de facto ethnic cleansing of rural farm lands. To be sure, it is not a situation where murderous attacks on whites are particularly rampant; on average, crime impacts blacks, especially poor blacks, at a higher rate, and whites tend to be a little safer. But when you disaggregate the information and look at white commercial farmers in rural areas, there is an incredible spike, not just in murder and rape, but in the barbarity and violence of the crimes, as well. The obvious intent, both of public statements by political leaders which create the atmosphere and of the Farm Attacks themselves, is ethnic cleansing.

Genocide Watch has categorized South Africa at Stage 6 of 10 for genocide of white Boer farmers and of foreigners; elements of and spikes into the other four stages are present.

4) Expropriation without Compensation (EWC)

One move that the ANC-led government is trying, with tremendous support from the radical left-wing militant EFF, is to gain political leverage for the upcoming elections by pushing a scheme to take land from the “settlers” (white farmers). Though Article 25 of the South African Constitution allows for “expropriation” of property subject to fair compensation and in the public interest, South Africa is in the process of amending this article to permit taking of private property without compensation. Despite being billed as an effort to redistribute land, the reality is that no property will be safe: urban and intellectual property, accumulated wealth… all will be subject to “expropriation without compensation”.

It should be noted that the very next article in the South African Constitution, No. 26, provides that people may not be dispossessed of their homes without having their day in court. Also, Article 39 states that the courts must consider international law; much of what is going on in South Africa, and this includes the proposed EWC, would violate many provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


South Africa is the world’s 25th largest country by area, 24th by population, and is Africa’s only member of the G20; the economy is Africa’s second largest and most developed; depending on which set of statistics you consider, its GDP ranks anywhere from 31st to 41st place in the world. The Southern African Customs Union (SACU) ties the South African economy to those of its neighbors, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland (now known as eSwatini). South Africa has some of the richest mineral deposits in the world, feeding world industry, and has extensive coal deposits. There are also largely undeveloped reserves of unconventional and offshore petroleum (though not a lot), and the country sits astride critical shipping lanes around the southern tip of Africa.

A great deal is at stake, and if South Africa goes the way of a failed state, you need to imagine a Somalia-like scenario, but on steroids – including Islamic terrorism, which is destabilizing large parts of Mozambique (South Africa’s neighbor to the north along the Indian Ocean coast), and which is now present in the port city of Durban. In my opinion (and in the Air Force, I was an Intelligence Applications Officer and graduate of the USAF Weapons School), this could destabilize a third of Africa through genocidal and xenophobic civil war, famine and a resulting refugee crisis.

Such a scenario will beg for a US-led intervention to stabilize the country; that failing, China would likely have to intervene to protect mineral resources and critical infrastructure. China already appears to be getting assets in place, including the alleged deployment of late-model surface-to-air missiles (a “poor man’s Patriot”) to neighboring Zimbabwe, which faces no threat requiring such a defense, unless one considers the potential for a Western intervention.

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