The ANC and the boers

James Myburgh
20 September 2011

James Myburgh on what MK's landmine campaign of 1985-1987 says about the concept of "ibhunu"

In an article published in ANC Today on Friday Ayanda Dlodlo, secretary general of the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA), stridently criticised Judge Collin Lamont's recent judgment in the hate speech case against ANCYL President Julius Malema. Dlodlo complained that the judgment was aimed at killing the history of MK.

She argued that when MK cadres sung "awudubula ibhunu" ("shoot the boer") the "ibhunu" being referred to were the military enemy, not Afrikaners in general. Dlodlo stated:

"In MK military language and I dare say struggle colloquium, ‘ibhunu' is the ‘enemy'. And contrary to Judge Lamont's view, a hausfrau who supported apartheid did not necessarily constitute, the ‘enemy' or ‘ibhunu' and neither did a farmer who was not an extension of the South African Defence Force (SADF) brigade as a member of the Commandos. By extension it is not everyone who supported the apartheid system that was the ‘enemy' in a military sense." (For Dlodlo this definition of the ‘ibhunu' as the specific enemy "was one that was destroyed when we found liberation. Today ‘ibhunu' is no more. ‘Ibhunu' died when apartheid died.")

As Dlodlo implicitly acknowledges white farmers who were members of the commando system were regarded as ‘ibhunu' i.e. as legitimate targets of attack. Indeed, farmers were openly targeted by MK cadres in the mid-to-late 1980s most notably in the landmine campaign in the Northern border areas that ran between 1985 and 1987. It is instructive returning to that period for it casts considerable light on the ANC's conception of the "enemy."

On November 26 1985 two people were injured in two separate land mine blasts on roads near Messina in the then Northern Transvaal. A Pretoria News report the same day proclaimed that this was "the first time that mines have been planted on South African roads." (Edward Meluba, a passenger in one of the vehicles, died sometime later of his wounds). Four South African Defence Force (SADF) members, sweeping the area for other mines, were slightly injured the following day after their troop carrier detonated a mine.

In a Radio Freedom broadcast from Addis Ababa on November 28 1985 the ANC took credit for these attacks. It said the landmines in Messina were a "sign of the intensification of the struggle that is seen inside our country by our people." It warned white South Africans that this and other such activities would soon "become the order of the day" and advised that "they must also keep it in mind that such activities will not only intensify but will also spread and engulf the entire country including their residential areas."

The first person to die in these attacks was Jas Balie, 25, a black tractor driver. His vehicle had struck a landmine on a farm road on November 27 and he died the following day. A day or two later another black farm worker, Philemon Ngcobo, was killed when his tractor was blown up on a farm in the area. On 16 December six people were killed when their bakkie detonated a landmine on a game farm near Messina. Mrs Kobie van Eck, 34, her children Ignatius,2, and Nellmarie,8, Marie Denyschen, 59, and her grandchildren Kobus, 3, and Karna, 9, were all killed in the blast.

In a Radio Freedom broadcast on January 6 1986 the ANC effectively accepted responsibility for these deaths. It described the victims of the blasts as "six white Boer farmers and one black." It stated that "The ANC HQ in Lusaka has not admitted responsibility for the recent blasts while it awaits reports from our combatants operating inside the country" but "really it is not even important whether the ANC HQ does finally admit the action or not because it is, after all, one of the actions that are part of the on-going and intensifying armed struggle inside South Africa. Whoever carried out the attack or planted the mine is most certainly a South Africa patriot..."

In early January 1986 Elize de Beer, 32, and her father-in-law Hubert de Beer, 63, died after their vehicle struck a landmine on a farm close to the Botswana border near Ellisras in the Northern Transvaal.

In a Radio Freedom broadcast on February 26 1986 Chris Hani, then army political commissar and deputy commander of MK, made clear that although MK was not targeting white civilians willy-nilly white farmers were regarded as legitimate targets:

"Umkhonto we Sizwe is a revolutionary army and it is not about to embark on mayhem against whites, civilians, against children, but we are going to step up our attacks against enemy personnel we are referring to the members of the police forces, to the members of the SADF, to those in the administrations terrorising and harassing our people to those farmers and other civilians who are part of the defence force in our country, of the military, paramilitary and reserves. But comrades we are realists. The theatre of these actions are going to be in the white residential areas, and it is inevitable that white civilians will die."

(According to a contemporaneous press report in mid May 1986 two MK cadres were killed when the landmine they were priming on a farm near Hectorspruit exploded. A farm worker, Mzanzi Mabone, was also killed in the blast.)

In May 1986 Biza Mahlangu, 25, and Daniel Sindane, 40, were killed after the minibus they were travelling in hit a landmine on a farm in the then Eastern Transvaal near Davel. On August 17 1986 three woman and two children were killed after the BMW they were travelling in struck a landmine on a road near Nelspruit. Ernelena Sebiti, 28, Lindiwe Mdluli, 20, Katie Sambo, 23, died in the blast as did Joyce Nkowayne and Regina Nkowayne, both whom were less than one year old.

On October 28 1986 the ANC defended these attacks in a long broadcast on Radio Freedom (see full transcript here). It stated:

"For some time now, areas around the northern borders of our country have experienced a spate of landmine explosions in which quite a number of racist farmers have either been killed or seriously injured...The vanguard liberation movement of our people, the ANC, has long declared these areas war zones. This is because the farmers in these areas have been fully integrated in the enemy's so-called security and defence network. White men, women and youths are part and parcel of the military and paramilitary units of the SADF."

The ANC's justification for the targeting of white farmers extended beyond just their participation in the structures of the SADF however. It stated that "This white farmer community is [made up of] exploiters with a slave-owner mentality... they monopolise the land claiming it as their own...  the Boers impose their presence and their rule with cold-blooded brutality. They do not think twice before beating a farm worker to death. They see nothing wrong in taking our children on nightmare joyrides or sexually assaulting black women farm workers: And this is all in the name of white civilisation, white power, super profits and free enterprise."

Apart from promising to escalate MK actions in farming areas the ANC incited black farm workers - who it said were not targets of its actions - to go after white farmers. "You owe the Boers nothing. In fact it is they that owe you everything because they have grown fat and wealthy on your poverty and labour. Sabotage his farming operations. Destroy his crops. Sabotage his implements and machinery. Daring actions of Umkhonto we Sizwe are not the only way of confronting the enemy. Sabotage operations are part of the people's war. And actions of the people are: Do not allow the Boers to arm you against the people. Take the guns and communication equipment ...and everything you can lay your hands on and turn them on the exploitative farmers."

 On November 2 1986 Lance Corporal Albert Marthinus Le Roux was killed after his horse detonated a landmine near Barberton. In a landmine attack on March 29 1986 two Motha brothers, a Mrs Phikhiti and an unnamed black female were killed when their vehicle detonated a landmine. (Siphiwe Nyanda, Solly Shoke, and Dick Mkhonto were granted amnesty in 2000 for these latter two attacks.)

In early May 1987 Karel Thou was killed after the truck he was transporting ten others in hit a landmine near Messina. These operations were finally called off by the ANC in late 1987.

Between November 1985 and May 1987 at least 24 individuals were killed in the ANC's landmine campaign (excluding the three who died in the Hectorspruit incident). Of these, 15 were black and 9 were white. Of the white South Africans killed three were women, four were children and two were men. Lance Corporal Le Roux was the only soldier, and only white male of army going age, killed in these operations.

Despite its overt ANC sympathies the Truth and Reconciliation Commission nonetheless found that "the ANC's landmine campaigns in the period 1985 -1987 in the rural areas of the Northern and Eastern Transvaal cannot be condoned, in that it resulted in gross violations of the human rights of civilians including farm labourers and children, who were killed or injured, The ANC is held accountable for such gross human rights violations."

As the Radio Freedom transcripts indicate the targets of this campaign were farmers and their families. The concept of "ibhunu" - as defined by Dlodlo - was an elastic one which could be extended, if need be, from white male farmers to their wives and children (not to mention black ‘collaborators'). The October 28 1986 broadcast further suggests that farmers were not simply being targeted for their involvement in SADF structures but for racial and ideological reasons as well. Furthermore the ANC persisted with these attacks despite the consistently high fatality rate among black civilians from the beginning to the end of the campaign.

In 1957 C.W. de Kiewiet observed that the "Afrikaners with the strongest sense of grievance developed a special feeling of innocence and rectitude, which blocked their ability to envisage a society, hospitable to all men, or to discern error in themselves."

Something of the same spirit seems to be at work among the ANC, and its supporters, in their strident defence of their right to go around singing "awudubula ibhunu" wherever they please and regardless of the consequences.

Such is the ANC's feeling of "innocence and rectitude" that it seems incapable of taking meaningful responsibility for the crimes it committed during the armed struggle and for its complete failure, once in power, to protect farmers from the most horrendous criminal violence.

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 responses to this article

Ah the noble MK
Killing black farm workers and women and young children - all a bit unimpressive and incompetent if you ask me.

Would it be fair to say that the uselessness of the ANC in the armed struggle was a warning of things to come when they tried to run a . .more

by Sad Days on September 20 2011, 04:31
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The continuation of the freedom struggle equals the continuation of war
The freedom struggle was ligitimate until 1994 was a war. The war ended in 1994. The ANC continues to insist that the freedom struggle continues. This means that the war continues. Why is everybody shocked when they sing songs like shoot the boer? Were . .more

by Apb on September 20 2011, 06:01
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War and liberation
The only war and liberation presently is the personal one. The emancipation of people with the right education and the ability to understand the world. Sadly Malema's chanting and rhetoric distracts from that, and will simply delay
that process . .more

by Wizard on September 20 2011, 06:41
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REALITY HAS COME BACK TO BITE YOU KNOW WHERE....MANY WERE *Compromise* the truth that is under the pretence of *reconciliation* lets face it as united front lets get out of trenches

by mzala on September 20 2011, 07:33
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@black zama
I have to agree. Sa is just following the rest of Africa. It was just a matter of time. Enjoy the depravity your ignorant mind brings.

by cm on September 20 2011, 07:37
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Why is it only ANC supporters want violence to continue nuh?
The Constitution and the law and nation building want democracy and all to build a united nation. Only ANC supporters still want to kill and have another African tribal despot in charge nuh? Only ANC supporters still think that the chiefs care about their . .more

by Klilling on September 20 2011, 07:39
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The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth
Having watched the case on TV, there is no other judgement that would have satisfied the law in general and legislation in particular. Arguments now offered are popularist and do not hold any legal water!

by Quovadis on September 20 2011, 07:44
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Stupid, stupid song
military enemy, not Afrikaners ...What Bullshit.

Who do you think you are kidding.

It's just pure racism in a most blatant form.

Forget this stupid song. It really drags yo down to the gutter.

by Duh on September 20 2011, 07:51
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Kill The Boer - Enemy and Everyone
Because of the desire to generalise the "word" Ubuntu is a very vey lame excuse to justify the continued use of it.

Life is divided into phases, people wanted democratic rights, they got it too!!!

We need transparency now, and they . .more

by Hanneszama on September 20 2011, 08:17
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Marvel at the stupidity
I have to marvel at this saga. The amount of effort being put into preserving and (apparently) glorifying a song (or chant) so fundamentally without substance is mind boggling and really only a tribute to the mental ability (or dramatic lack thereof) of . .more

by Charles Scheepers on September 20 2011, 08:30
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Revolution culture
Malema and his followers belong to a subculture that has revolution as its ultimate goal. MK, the ANC ... were and are organizations steeped in revolt. They will find a cause, no matter what, and define that as the reason for their revolution. There is . .more

by Paul on September 20 2011, 08:44
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MK and the murder of civilians
An excellent article. One day when the current mash of history has been distilled to essences, voices such as these will still be clear and bright, telling the truth.

by DavidJ on September 20 2011, 09:00
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Genocide's right
How can the Afrikaners, the Whites in general and their “controlled Press” to keep denying the ANC’s brave warriors and their voters’ collective of the Dumbocratic Bantustan of Kleptozania the right to commit genocide against them by "awudubula ibhunu"? . .more

by Injala Apera on September 20 2011, 09:14
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Can someone help me, is this a song or a one-liner?
What does the rest of the words say?
Or is there none?

by ? on September 20 2011, 09:15
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If we could all just get on with it and stop wasting the courts time and money. Most of us with half a brain know there is a future if we just put the C*** behind us! Bringing up the past is not helping the forward momentum of positivity. It only serves . .more

by Robbo on September 20 2011, 09:28
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Control your Agent
How can you create an agent and you cannot control it ANC is a rulling party they own the contitutional court that is why the judges are appointed by the State President, wake up ANC is rulling, Viva MK and ANC

by Thabiso somi on September 20 2011, 09:34
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If only ?
We could solve this countries' problems and grow the economy by singing and dancing ? Then again what else except name changing can the anc government actually do properly ?

by kreef on September 20 2011, 09:36
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The new apartheid
Kill the Boer songs, anti-white articles and speeches and exclusive Black organisations
such as Black lawyers, Black accountants, Black managers, Black estate agents seem to be the order of the day with some Black people. Isn't this racism - a new . .more

by James on September 20 2011, 09:52
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A partheids N ew C hild

by Rob on September 20 2011, 10:29
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Reconciliation is better
What really is the correlation to the practise of the arm struggle in the height of Apartheid and the verdict of the Dubhula ibhunu struggle song last week? The ANC was waging a guerrilla war which necessitated that direct engagement with the SADF be . .more

by Neo Warona on September 20 2011, 10:55
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@James 09:52
Why would we want to grow up, James? It's lekker to squabble in the sandpit. (As they say in the fashion industry 'Black is the new white'!)

by DW on September 20 2011, 11:03
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@James,am sure you really don't mean reconciliation must erase our heritage and history.You surely do not mean inorder for us to be better human beings we must be apologetic about the roles played by MK and other liberation armies in waging what was a . .more

by Savito on September 20 2011, 11:17
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Oh Savito, you brainless chump!
People like you don't belong in civilised society; you need to go live in a game reserve with other mindless animals.

It's not "minorities" dictating to you, it's a thing called the LAW and the CONSTITUTION. These are rules and compacts . .more

by Mute Fool on September 20 2011, 11:28
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The mindless ANC followers above are hell bent on destroying the country. All the money infrastructure etc. that was built up by the white man will be lost in due time because the ANC and their stupid followers only know how to loot and not build. . .more

by MEISIE on September 20 2011, 11:59
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James - a sound record
It is important to revisit historical events using documentation as this article does. The point is made: MKs "armed struggle" included attacking farmers and inevitably this also included the deaths of farmers their family members, farm workers and their . .more

by Roddo on September 20 2011, 13:25
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That's correct, Meisie. Naive white citizens were persuaded to present this magnificent country to an abomination called the ANC. Of course we all know, it would never have happened the other way round, grace and decency being unknown . .more

by HARD A' STARBOARD on September 20 2011, 13:48
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@Neo Warona.I agree. The future should belong to people with balance, not the extremists: Not the racists, not the revolutionaries. We agreed to reconciliation, and we should stick to it. This gives everyone a chance to develop. That is what everyone . .more

by Hutu on September 20 2011, 13:52
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.....I was a baby boomer from WW2. One of the "cultural" songs I've inherited goes like this:-

Hitler has only got one ball,
Goering has two but VERY small,
Himmler has something similar,
But poor old Goeballs...
has no . .more

by John Austin on September 20 2011, 13:54
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@John Austin: You belong to the "waste land" that is Europe today.
Broke and useless!

by Kom Terug Af Oorseer on September 20 2011, 14:09
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stability 2
Having said all that, I acknowledge that when whites had power they never gave that mutual respect. However, they eventually realised they were wrong and ceded power, as opposed to hanging on to a cliff end. That was a recognition of the power of the . .more

by Hutu on September 20 2011, 14:40
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....an interesting comment on this SOUTH AFRICAN issue. However, it is encouraging to see your level of debate has progressed above that of implying threats at the children of those with whom you disagree. Makorokoto, comrade, aluta continua, ne . .more

by John Austin on September 20 2011, 14:55
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Savito: Who are you referring to as "one of our own?" - an MK person or a Black South African? Either way, do you really think that "we the people of MK intend to kill......" is still appropriate today i.e. 2011?? By all means - don't forget the past - . .more

by Mickey on September 20 2011, 16:14
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@ Hutu
"the power of the black" (?). Power was HANDED over because WHITES decided the policies were wrong. Now it looks as if they were wrong in handing over that power. Perhaps it is time for a white homeland to show the rest of SA how things can be done.

by CA Bez on September 20 2011, 18:28
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let the money talk
I bought another five kruger rands today.
there is a wonderful synergy in using gold mined by dumb savages to protect one's wealth against the inroads of another set of dumb savages who are so intent on cutting their noses to spite their faces that . .more

by Plutarch on September 20 2011, 19:35
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The ANC and the Boers
It's hard to tell the difference between the ANC and the Boers, it's only a different shade...although I have been led to believe a pencil helps...

by . on September 20 2011, 19:45
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When one reads the above comments you cannot help but wonder whether apartheid was not if fact right. Are these the views of most South Africans? Is there so much polarization between races? One gets the opinion that blacks and whites are miles apart. If . .more

by Wizard on September 20 2011, 20:12
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White were wrong
In a triumph of hope over common sense, the white electorate voted in the great referendum, to bring blacks into the political sphere in SA. They thought they were ready, not least because their leader, Mandela seemed to be a well rehabilitated criminal . .more

by Guy Mullins on September 20 2011, 22:07
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Blacks were not ready for political maturity and are today proving it with every demented political decision they take. They are uncomfortable with excellence and prefer the unthinking existence of bush living while surrounding themselves with the shiny . .more

by Robbo on September 20 2011, 22:23
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Apartheid and Neo-Apartheid : @Wizard
You're right, blacks and whites are poles apart. Apartheid, the domination of blacks by whites, has been replaced with a Neo-Apartheid, domination of racial minorities by the ethnic black majority. The most important difference between the two systems, . .more

by Dave on September 20 2011, 22:42
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Man these MK dudes talk real big NOW
I am not sure why they are so proud - killing innocent children, women and black farmhands and calling that "warfare" is all a bit P*******.

They have big mouths yet there appears to be a shortage of actual military successes that they can to be . .more

by Sad days on September 20 2011, 23:46
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As an armed force MK was a joke, in reality a bunch of cowardly bomb planters.
Yeah, how many armies in the world allow their "soldiers" to go on strike? Heh, heh, heh....I'm sure the Zim army would knock the sh!t out of our SADF layabouts in one day flat. Thank God the rest of Africa is broke so we're safe and in no way in need of . .more

by Mute Fool on September 21 2011, 01:15
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Mr Bobbo...
... I have to take exception at your statement "If the Afrikaner had educated them and given them the same opportunity I believe we would not have the same issues right now...."

Where does this come from?

Since when is it the Afrikaners . .more

by JVR on September 21 2011, 02:59
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@CA Bez
It is inconceivable that you should be so ignorant. The power of the black. Yes. Whenever there is a group of people there is a power involved. Blacks, united or in tribes, have power. Your/our disrespect causes a reversal, where disrespect is given to . .more

by Hutu on September 21 2011, 08:18
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I would agree that people in SA need to find respect for each other. This should be encouraged. That is hardly possible though when a leader would call a certain race group "criminals". When this attitude is condemned by all and real respect is encouraged . .more

by Wizard on September 21 2011, 21:24
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quid pro quo
Agreed, @Wizard. Malema was chosen for his ability to stir up the M******, especially whites. He encourages everyone to fall into a psychological Nash equilibrium (that South African brand of ugliness) that the Nats encouraged so well. "Die Swart . .more

by Hutu on September 22 2011, 02:36
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I do agree with you. We need more balanced and wise commentary and need to be less provocative.

by Wizard on September 22 2011, 07:02
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wolves in sheeps clothing
Apartheid didn't end bcuz the NP dcided one day that this was wrong.It ended cuz of a massive revolution looming and international pressure so dnt get it twisted.either way the NP wudn't of been in charge for that much longer.so stop patting yrselves on . .more

by Realism on September 23 2011, 21:37
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It was not because of a looming revolution my friend it was because of sanity prevailing. SA had the resources to engage in a horrible war believe me but reasonable people made sane decisions. We need more of that type of leadership today.

by Wizard on September 25 2011, 17:03
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Neo Genocide
10 x more Afrknaer boere are now dying than during the so-called war.
South Africa is placed at level 6 of the 8-scale for genocide by the Genocide Watch.
Afrikaners heas only one option for survival: An independent sovereign homeland.
OASE . .more

by chris on September 27 2011, 16:30
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The continuation of the freedom struggle equals the continuation of war
@ Apb i think was view of saying struggle ended in 1994 is misinformed.The struggle was not to only topple old Regime but also to emacipate previous disadvantaged and until that is attained then the struggle will continue rightly so.

by Letsedi on October 25 2011, 12:00
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Letsedi: continuation of freedom struggle
Letsedi, the 'previously disadvantaged' i.e. blacks, were emancipated in 1994 but they are unlikely to enjoy the fruits of democracy because they keep on returning the corrupt and morally bankrupt ANC to power. The ANC doesn't care about them until the . .more

by jelry on October 25 2011, 12:27
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