JOHANNESBURG - The week after the brutal killing of AWB leader, Eugene Terre'Blanche, City Press published an article by Andile Mngxitama, policy advisor to the European Union's Foundation for Human Rights in Johannesburg. Headed "Blacks in Bondage" it stated that due to the "criminal neglect" of black people by the ANC Terre'Blanche "and his gun-toting men" had been allowed to spread terror in Ventersdorp, right up until his death. In support of this contention Mngxitama related the following horrific story:
"In 1997, a young black mayor of Ventersdorp, Kabelo Oupakie Mashi, a staunch member of the SACP, stood up against the bullies of Ventersdorp. He transformed budgets, cajoled the local criminal justice system to take racist violence seriously, and attempted to bring freedom to Ventersdorp. Mashi was abducted and murdered, his body left in the veld. Witnesses were openly intimidated and the murder remains unsolved. If a mayor can be killed for challenging white power and the perpetrators can get away with it, what chance do ordinary mortals have? Terre'Blanche had carte blanche to terrorise black people."
In such a context, Mngxitama argued, Terre'Blanche's killers were not murderers but "mere children" who had heroically acted to defend themselves and their community. Since Ventersdorp was, according to Mngxitama, but a "microcosm of South Africa" presumably this logic would apply to other farm murders in South Africa. These killings too would be a case of young black youth "pushed into a corner" fighting back against their white oppressors.
This article seems to have impressed a number of commentators. The credulous BBC correspondent, Andrew Harding, said on his blog that Mngxitama's piece summed up well the "anger I've heard from black colleagues." In The Times meanwhile Richard Pithouse, of Rhodes University, described the AWB as "like the Ku Klux Klan in some dismal Mississippi town, partisans of a brutal regime of white terror that, as Andile Mngxitama argues, has never released Ventersdorp from its grip."
It is curious that no one seems to have bothered to query the accuracy of the central factual claim in Mngxitama's piece: That AWB members had killed Mashi, that they had been able to cover it up, that the crime remains unsolved to this day, and that (as a result) blacks in Ventersdorp have lived in terror ever since.
Something does not smell quite right about this account. Would the ANC really have allowed one of their own to be murdered by the AWB and then done nothing about it? Even if they had, why didn't the media take up the story?