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I think I know what happened: Did SA farmers set a police van on fire or…


Melusi Tshabalala is a father, author, creative and social entrepreneur, mother tongue activist, self-appointed isiZulu teacher, radio contributor, social commentator, ad person and speaker. He runs the popular Melusi’s Everyday Zulu franchise.

It obviously couldn’t have been farmers. They only burn wors, tjops and their insides with brandewyn, but never police vans. Never, ever.

Whoa, we’re burning police vans now? I refuse to believe that honest, hard-working, law-abiding, food-providing farmers could do something so barbaric. No way. It wasn’t them. I bet it was a stunt by some fancy, Sandton ad agency, trying to win awards, with a campaign launching Fokofpolisiekar’s latest album. Yup, that’s it. Trust me, I work in advertising. 

If it wasn’t an ad agency stunt, it was members of the EFF, dressed in boer disguise because there is no way it could have been God-fearing, family-loving, nation-carrying boere who burnt that police car. Nooit, Meneer. In fact, a farmer that was there told me he heard someone say “Amandla”, as the flames started to lick the dashboard of the van. He says he hadn’t brought it up before because he initially thought the person had called out to Amanda, but now he is 100% sure it was “Amandla”. 

If it wasn’t EFF members in boer disguise, it was ANC Youth League members in boer disguise because it is impossible that it was salt-of-the-earth, butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-their-mouths, country-loving farmers that set that police van alight. No way. Never. In fact, a farmer’s girlfriend came over to my place and told me a reliable source told her the whole thing had been put out to tender, which was then awarded to a corrupt comrade. It apparently will all be laid bare at the Zondo Commission. 

However, if it was not the EFF or ANC Youth League, it must have been members of the ANC Women’s League in boer disguise. It obviously couldn’t have been farmers. They only burn wors, tjops and their insides with brandewyn, but never police vans. Never, ever. In fact, as the flames were roaring, someone heard “Wathinta imbokodo, wathinta abafazi”. At first, they thought it was just some farm worker’s wife, speaking rubbish, but now they are 100% sure it was a member of the ANC Women’s League, celebrating. 

Okay, let’s suspend all disbelief and say it was protesting farmers that burnt the police van. I know, I know … but just try imagining it was them. Then it obviously was the Devil that made them do it because it is not in their good nature to do such a barbaric thing. No way. They were possessed by evil spirits and weren’t themselves. It was evil, Bantu spirits that entered their pure, Christian bodies and led them astray, causing them to behave in an uncharacteristic manner. They behaved very unboer-like because in the history of this country, there have been zero recorded incidents of boere violence. None. Niks. Lutho. South Africa has never experienced boere rage because farmers are peaceful, loving people. In fact, if you dig deep, you will learn that “kumbaya” was originally an Afrikaans word – same with “namaste” and “ubuntu”. Even the Zion Christian Church expropriated the greeting “Kgotso (peace)” from the boere, and they did so without compensation. They just took it, which makes sense because the Zion Christian Church is headquartered in Limpopo and Julius is from Limpopo. 

Okay, on a serious note, it seems it was the farmers who burnt that police van, but it is okay because it wasn’t the EFF, the ANC, the ANC Youth League, the ANC Women’s League, Cosatu, AMCU, SASCO or any of those barbaric organisations. The police van was burnt by otherwise level-headed, decent and respectful boere who were pushed too far. It is okay that they did what they did, and we must all just move on. I get it. I get it so much, if I could I would walk around in a T-shirt that reads: “The boere were pushed too far.” The T-shirt would also feature a visual of an overturned police van on fire and a smiling boer, braaing vleis over that fire, brandy and coke in hand. I say I would wear this T-shirt IF I COULD because the reality is I can’t. I can’t because the barbaric EFF, ANC, ANC Youth League, ANC Women’s League, SACP and Cosatu would attack me. If these guys wouldn’t attack me, I would wear this T-shirt with pride. 

Okay, I wouldn’t because what those protesters did is criminal, and the perpetrators should be punished accordingly. 

The reality is crime is a scourge in this country, especially violent crime. We, normal citizens of all races, are under siege and it is relentless. It really is. Cash-in-transit heists, home invasions, farm murders, hijackings, robberies – it is an ongoing snuff movie and we are unwilling extras. We have been let down by the government and the police. All of us. No one victim of crime is more important than another. No one life has more value than another. No one section of the population feels the hurt more than another. We are all in this mess together, and we are all hurting, scared and angry. These feelings of anger and frustration do not give anyone the right to break the law. No one should be a vigilante, no one should burn schools, no one should burn stores and no one should attack the police, burning a police car. There is no justification for such behaviour. 

Those who justify what the protesting Senekal farmers did, while condemning #FeesMustFall protesters, the EFF and countless other protesters who have resorted to violence before, need to search their souls to find answers to why they think it is okay for one group of people to act in this way – but not for another. They need to look at why they have different feelings towards the different groups. What is it about these groups of South Africans that makes them have different reactions to their actions? Those people need to take a long, hard look at themselves and their world-view. Or maybe they don’t need to do any of this, as they know very well what informs their feelings about different sections of the South African population, and they are fine with that. 

Anyway, back to Fokofpolisiekar – if they do not release a single, just to exploit this Senekal situation, I will know for sure that the saying “n boer maak n plan” is a lie. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Dennis Bailey says:

    Don’t give up your day job…

  • Brendan Murray says:

    tl:dr – a long road to a worthwhile destination – “Those who justify what the protesting Senekal farmers did, while condemning #FeesMustFall protesters, the EFF and countless other protesters who have resorted to violence before, need to search their souls to find answers to why they think it is okay for one group of people to act in this way – but not for another […] What is it about these groups of South Africans that makes them have different reactions to their actions?”

  • Colleen Dardagan says:

    I tried to laugh, but all I could do was cry. It is 2020 after all and the world has gone mad.

  • Frans Ferreira says:

    Burning/Damaging of property is not on. But punish everybody. In every town in RSA there are at least one example of damage to property by protestors but very few prosecutions to show. The SAPS need to step up to the plate!

  • May Beam says:

    Thank you for the funny article which is as funny as it is insightful. These views are very much needed.

  • Christine Cameron-Dow says:

    Missed the point, IMHO. It is as wrong for a bunch of farmers to tip and burn a police car, as it was for angry, hungry, jobless people to go one the rampage over food parcels, as it is for angry, forgotten people waiting in vain for housing to burn tyres in roads and stone passing cars. It’s all wrong. But please, tell us; what is it going to take for government to fix it? To actually stop LOOKING at it and reach out and at least TOUCH the problem? The Khayelitsha Commission’s final report was submitted in 2014. How many of its recommendations have been implemented? The commando was disbanded in 2003, despite the vital work it did in maintaining law and order in rural areas. The police have STILL not filled the gaps it left. Meanwhile, farmers and farm workers of all races are the victims of assassinations, terrorism, land invasions and politically motivated attacks. Sure, crime affects all of us. SAPS, Cele, the entire government should be rending their clothes, covering themselves in sackcloth and strewing ashes on their heads, weeping and pleading our forgiveness, for this wave of crime that takes our women, children, breadwinners and job creators. But what does it take to make them give a flying fornication? Yes, we condemned the EFF’s very destructive spats over t shirts and hair products. That was nothing more than deliberate incitement and political opportunism, and it was disgusting. When confronted with this level of grief and rage, over thousands of people tortured and killed, we can shake our heads, but please, grant us sufficient humanity to understand.

  • Julius Strydom says:

    What a sad place South Africa has become. To write an article like this, Melusi, is not funny. If you think the farm murders are not a very serious issue you are obviously entitled to your view. But you then become part of the problem.
    The vast majority of the people in this country are good people. But those murdering people, those dancing in the streets with placcards, our politicians and . . . .sadly . . most jounalists are the ones who get attention.
    And, Daily Maverick, you are starting to look a lot like the old Progs. Don’t spoil the good work of your investigators with some contributors (MT is not alone) who reminds one of a CNN-like skewed view of the world.

    • May Beam says:

      I think you missed the point. He is not saying that farm murders are not serious – au contraire. The point here (as I understand it) is that farm murders are a damn serious problem that has not been taken seriously, hence driving the target audience (farmers) to become so unapologetically angry that they start behaving like all those who protest for equally serious problems but are generally seen as barbarians (as opposed to be recognised – as the farmers are – as people who have been disenfranchised and damaged to the extent that they are ready to burn public property).

  • Kirsty M says:

    Thank you for the interesting perspective. I do enjoy articles where you find yourself questioning yourself.

    Why exactly have I felt it was justified for farmers to burn a police car and different when other groups of people do the same?

    And let’s be clear here. The author is questioning whether it is because I am a racist. That’s ok, I would rather someone asked me and allowed me time to consider.

    No. I do not identify myself as racist. I actively seek to identify my own priviledge, unconcious bias and I am very verbal when someone is racist around me.

    If I am not a racist than why else would I find this violent act of burning a police car understandable?

    Is it because OF racism? Maybe herein lies the answer for me.

    Farm murders are now a little too close to home.

    I have grown up post-apartheid in a world where I feel like my little white voice means nothing in the bigger scope of politics in my country.

    I cannot relate to the ANC or the DA and what I am feeling or experiencing represents only a small minority of individuals in this country. I feel disenfranchised and disconnected and quite frankly useless in the bigger scheme if things.

    I see the ANC and EFF protest/march/loot in anger against “white monopoly” and “white power” and I just don’t understand or relate to it. Most white people I know are getting poorer not richer. Where are these white people with such influence and who have all of South Africa’s money (because they are really giving the rest of us a bad name!)?

    How can I relate to the sabotage of a business when the ANC/EFF could have spent all that energy fixing the laws of the country to ensure corporate responsibility. Imagine if that anger could be directed at the biggest problem our people of facing. Starvation, violence, abuse, corruption.

    Our government have done such a great job of keeping the apartheid geographical divide that I live in my own little bubble, keep my head down, be kind to people and try make the best of life.

    So you ask me why farmers damaging property is different for me?

    It is because never before, in my young life, have I seen white people do this. And if farmers in the Free State are saying they are being murdered, should I be forced to confront racism and have to worry about my little happy bubble being burst?

    Should I too worry that I might end up living in a country that, does not only want me, but is prepared to violently kill me and my family in the name of racism?

    Maybe there is a deep seated racist rhetoric in my response. I may never know because the dialogue between the races is quickly burning to the ground.

  • District Six says:

    Brilliant. Give up your day job and write some more! Bravo!

  • Greeff Kotzé says:

    Destroying public property seems to have become key to having one’s concerns noted in South Africa. These boere might have been late to the party, but you can’t quite deny the conclusion that has been reached.

    Quite tragic that arguably important causes (and I really do mean a wide variety of causes, not just those of particular demographic) are generally just ignored in this country before things get taken one step too far. Aside from starting to listen sooner, we probably should also stop rewarding and reinforcing bad behaviour with attention.

    The nett result is a general breakdown in civility and civic responsibility. And, as the author has cheekily noted, even the self-appointed “last bastion of righteousness and virtue” in SA has now fallen prey to this temptation.

  • Dries van der Colff says:

    I totally agree with “Those people need to take a long, hard look at themselves and their world-view.” The hypocrisy on both sides of the divide is sickening. When the perpetrators have the same level of melatonin as me, then destroying property to make a point is perfectly justified, but if the perpetrators don’t look like me, then the same action is absolutely unacceptable.

  • Charles Thatcher says:

    These are valid opinions about violence directed at the state.
    The root cause is the callous contempt for all ordinary citizens by the ANC rulers. Greedy looting of state assets, apathy, lack of empathy and failure to rule effectively has trickled down into the government, and is reflected in the systemic uselessness of virtually all the hollowed-out state departments. The treasury is empty and effective government is impossible.

    The people of SA are desperate as their very lives are under threat daily. In this toxic reality, the state fails to act to help them physically survive from one day to the next.

    In this reality of utter desperation and hopelessness it’s no wonder that violence is directed at the physical symbols of the state like government buildings, schools, police vehicles and so on.

    It has nothing to do with race.

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