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4.07.2010

Race in the New South Africa

South Africa has gone through a rough few weeks recently with racial issues at the forefront that touch on constitutional questions. The controversial leader of the African National Congress youth league, Julius Malema, has included a sing-along with his speeches. He uses an anti-Apartheid song that contains the lyric “shoot the Boers” and other similar statements. This has created quite a row given that Malema has significant political power in the majority party.

Next, the controversial white right wing Afrikaaner (Boer) nationalist, Eugene TerreBlanche, was brutally killed, allegedly by two blacks who worked for him. The authorities have stated the killing was connected to supposedly unpaid wages. The authorities have also said that they will prosecute fully. Some supporters of TerreBlanche, however, claim the killing was linked to the kind of rhetoric used in the song mentioned earlier. This seems like a stretch.

Several legal issues have arisen. One is that a court had just recently enjoined Malema from singing this song at rallies, because the song supposedly violates South Africa’s hate speech restrictions. Another is that the National Prosecuting Authority has announced that it will try the accused TerreBlanche killers in camera because one is only 15 years old (the other is 28). Whether either legal decision will stand is unclear. What is clear is that South Africa’s racial divisions remain significant.

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