South Africa: White Fears of Genocide Are Overstated

South Africa is a violent nation by first world standards, with high levels of murder each year. Recent fears in the white community of the mass murder of whites are not factually based.

Steve Hofmeyer, a white conservative South African Afrikaner has been helping to stoke the flame of white paranoia with wildly inaccurate estimates of deaths among whites, claiming that whites are “being killed like flies”. He claims that “the amount of whites killed in SA in black on white violence” would fill a soccer stadium.

Official statistics released by the South African Police Services show that over the almost twenty years between the end of apartheid in 1994 and 2011, there have been 377,477 murders in South Africa. Blacks are far more likely to be the victims in these murders than are whites.

The SAPS conducted an analysis of murder dockets in 2009 and concluded that 86.9% of murders were committed against Africans, while only 1.8% were against whites. In 1994, the white murder rate was estimated at around 11/100,000, while the black murder rate was around 71. By 2000, the white murder rate had fallen by around 17% to about 9.

Following the 2000 Firearms Control Act, dramatic falls in the overall homicide rate were experienced, with the white homicide rate falling 33% to around 6. The black rate also fell to a low of 33. Government attempts to control the firearm homicide rate have been largely successful. Other methods of homicide have not changed appreciably in comparison.

It is startling that the white South African homicide rate is comparable to the overall homicide rate in the United States, with South Africa only slightly worse. If the white homicide rate is compared in both countries, whites in South Africa die at a rate three times that in the United States. While homicide deaths in South Africa are still horrifyingly high, for whites, the rate is comparable with countries like the Philippines, and vastly better than Mexico or Brazil.

The reasons for violence are not difficult to discern, with high levels of income disparity and poverty, high unemployment, a lack of education, and substance abuse. The ANC, while not entirely attentive to these issues, has been making progress, given the declines in homicide.

An article published by Africa Check claims that murders are similar today to what they were in apartheid South Africa. In 1970, there was a murder rate of 32.12, while in 2011/12 the rate was 30.9, a decline from the apartheid years.

As in many countries, including the United States, women, children and the elderly in South Africa are more likely to be killed by an intimate partner than by an armed intruder. Bringing a gun into a home increases the risk to all members of the household for all measures of homicide, suicide and accidental death and injury. Gun possession does not make people safer.

The real danger with convincing white South Africans that they are “dying like flies” is the formation of armed rebels to fight the government. In every armed confrontation in Africa subsequent to the departure of the European colonial powers, armed bands have targeted civilians, causing widespread misery and death. In both the insurgencies in Angola and Mozambique, large numbers of civilians were killed, including an estimated 500,000 in Angola and 1 million in Mozambique. Under 20,000 soldiers on all sides died.

Crime in South Africa is undoubtedly horrific, but whites should be realistic and look at the facts. There is no need to exaggerate to expose excessive crime. Many people around the world understand that crime is rampant and that the ANC must take stronger measures to combat it. However, given the economic realities facing the country, violence is not unexpected. All South Africans should work together to create a safer, wealthier and more secure nation.

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