Farm Attacks: An Existential Threat to South Africa

I posted this on July 18th of this year, on Facebook, when Facebook was advertising a celebration of Nelson Mandela’s birthday.

SPOILER ALERT – you may find this offensive, and I don’t really care!

________

On January 23, 1960, a mob attacked 4 white and 5 black policemen at Cato Manor Police station. The mob murdered the police officers, disemboweling some.

Two months later, on the night of March 29, 1960, small groups of militants approached the police station in Sharpeville, but were driven away by the police on duty there.

The next day, March 30, 1960, thousands of people approached the police station in Sharpeville for a protest that at first was peaceful and even festive. Later, though, the crowd grew to about 20,000, and the mood turned ugly; militant activists were coercing people into attending the protest, cutting telephone lines, and distributing pamphlets warning people not to go to work. Initially, the 20 police had had things well under control facing a peaceful protest, but as the militants more than doubled the size of the crowd and stirred them up to become hostile, the police called for reinforcements, and 130 additional officers arrived, backed by four armored vehicles. Military aircraft overflew the crowd at low altitude in an attempt to scatter it.

The crowd then started throwing rocks and began to approach the police in a threatening manner. Remembering how the police at Cato Manor had been killed and mutilated, some of the officers opened fire on the crowd, and this began a volley of fire that left dozens of protesters dead and about 180 injured.

Influenced by friends like Moses Kotane, who was trained by Stalin’s regime in Moscow and became the general secretary of the South African Communist Party from 1939 until his death in 1978, and having himself begun to really study the works of Marx, Lenin and Mao, Nelson Mandela then cofounded a group called the “Spear of the Nation” as the armed wing of the African National Congress. This organization announced its presence on December 16, 1961, with bombings, beginning a bombing campaign that lasted until the late 1980’s. Together with torture and executions in ANC detention camps, ANC bombings of civilian targets became routine; an ANC campaign to place landmines in rural areas from 1985 to 1987 was only abandoned because of a high rate of casualties among civilian black laborers.

So, on this day that would have been Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday, let’s remember the impact he had, and let’s consider what kind of a world we would live in if everyone followed his example.

________

These links were in the comments on the original Facebook post:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cato_Manor

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharpeville_massacre

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umkhonto_we_Sizwe

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moses_Kotane

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nelson_Mandela

________

Freedom of Speech does not mean the freedom to say it’s a nice day out and to tell the tyrant what a great man he is.

Freedom of Speech means saying unpopular things – things that may be offensive to others.

This is for religious, political and scientific topics. It means questioning whether the Sun revolved around the Earth, which was at one time believed, and it means questioning whether the Earth revolves around the Sun, which is now believed. It means asking stupid questions, saying stupid things; it means questioning common “wisdom” and beliefs that have become dogma.

________

I, of course, did not know His Excellency Nelson Mandela personally. But my reading on him, based on the information I have seen, is that he was a communist and a terrorist who wound up governing the country whose government he sought to overthrow. When I refer to Nelson Mandela as “His Excellency”, that is out of sincere respect for the position he held, as President of the Republic of South Africa. And, I acknowledge two possibilities: 1) he did not approve of the indiscriminate killing and torture that the ANC was responsible for, or 2) he rose above it, and tried to make things right. Please feel free to educate me about him in the comments.

Other information I have reviewed shows that the ANC, while in exile, turned to criminal activities. The association of “liberation movements” and terrorist organizations with criminal groups is a topic for another post; suffice it to say, for now, that it is common.

Let’s take a moment and discuss Farm Attacks.

Farm Attacks are not ordinary crime. This term does not refer to a routine robbery of a rural commercial farm, although that does happen. It also does not refer to “social fabric”-type crimes, such as a violent dispute between an employer and an employee or between a married couple in a rural setting, although that, of course, happens too. We are referring to a type of attack where robbery is incidental, where violence is gratuitous, where the clear intent is to terrorize and intimidate the predominantly white commercial farmers, and where the attackers tend to be well-organized, well-trained, well-equipped, and well-supported – support including cover provided by political and law enforcement officials who have been corrupted.

Frankly, it looks like a government-backed militia, or rogue government personnel, or organized crime – but high-end organized crime, not a street gang.

With that in mind, let’s review some of the history.

At one point, the ANC and its military wing, the uMkhonto we Sizwe (abbreviated as MK), accepted Farm Attacks as a legitimate means of waging war against the Apartheid government in South Africa. The legitimacy of such a decision could of course be debated. Regardless, after taking power, Farm Attacks continued. President Mandela prioritized the Farm Attacks, and sought to stop them. (By comparison, today in South Africa, priority crimes include organized, military-style robberies of cash in transit – attacks which have a particularly debilitating effect on the South African economy.)

However, later on, after Mandela’s presidency, the rural police organization known as the Commando System was abolished, despite a recommendation that this not be done until something else was ready to take its place. And, the separate crime category of Farm Attacks was eliminated, rolling these crimes into the aggregated crime statistics. The attacks themselves were, of course, deprioritized – that’s implicit in eliminating them as a separate category.

Then, not surprisingly, the Farm Attacks begin to get worse. In fact, the Wikipedia article linked above refers to the attacks from 2012 onward, after all this occurred, although it does provide statistical data going back to the beginning of the post-Apartheid era.

The fact that Farm Attacks were part of the ANC/MK strategy to destabilize the Apartheid government, coupled with the ANC’s links to organized crime from the Apartheid era when it was operating in exile, then coupled with the disbandment of the Commando System and the elimination of “Farm Attack” as a separate category of crime, and the sophisticated nature of the Farm Attacks, taken together, gives the appearance of a pattern of conduct with implicit consent of government officials, including those at high levels: somebody is opening the door to these attacks, and providing cover for the attackers; the attackers brag about this during some of the attacks.

So, back to my thoughts on Mandela.

1) Maybe he was a good guy, like so many people think. Or maybe he became a good guy. In either case, he is deceased and no longer in charge; his successors might not be so nice.

2) Maybe he was a terrorist, and the ANC is just continuing in its corrupt, terroristic ways.

Either way, we have established the pattern, including the links to past conduct.

The ANC-led government gives conflicting statements on this topic. Individual leaders have done so; His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa has personally given conflicting statements on the topic of Farm Attacks, calling for an end to them last year, but then this year denying that it is a specific problem.

They know what is going on, and they understand the organized nature of these attacks. They know it is some kind of guerrilla force or organized crime group.

How could any government tolerate this on its soil? If it is foreign, it has the backing of a state or of a powerful transnational crime cartel, and is thus a clear and present danger to the Republic of South Africa: an act of war. If domestic, it is a sign of corruption at the highest levels – state capture by organized crime – or else it is a symptom of a government tolerating a continuing pogrom against its own people. And, it’s not just against any people: it is against those who employ many (in a nation where unemployment is already at 25%) and who feed most – an attack against the very fabric of South African society, in addition to being an attack on the concept of a “Rainbow Nation” that has found “Unity in Diversity”.

These Farm Attacks are an existential threat to the Republic of South Africa.

Cui bono?

The Republic of South Africa is home to Africa’s second largest and most developed economy, a state that is located on top of major supplies of mineral wealth that are critical to world industry, a state that has commercial ties to the entire world and which is the door to half of Africa… how will it impact the rest of the world when this state collapses in famine, chaos, crime, looting, xenophobic and racially-motivated ethnic cleansing and mass killing?

Because that’s the path it’s on.

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