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Racism, Mlotshwa and the hypocrisy of political parties

By BO Staff Writer

A gruesome attack happened in a farm in Middleburg, Mpumalanga some three months ago. A black man, Victor Rethabile Mlotshwa, was in a rush. He figured he could take a shortcut through a farm. Something he and many others, probably do everyday. While walking, he noticed a bakkie driving behind him, then another in front of him. It clicked, he was in danger. 

He tried to run, but the white farm owners, Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Martins Jackson, were too fast. They caught him, beat him up, tied him up with cable ties and threw him into one of the vans. They drove him to a nearby farm where they continued their brutal assault. 

The two white men, Oosthuizen and Jackson, then brought a coffin and while the one was stuffing a grown, breathing black man into a coffin, the other took a phone out, and recorded the incident, as if reliving a long gone moment on a slave plantation when Masters used to take postcard pictures of black people hanging from trees by theirs necks – strange fruit, as Billy Holiday said.  

In this moment, when a man whose ancestors were killed, raped and murdered to secure the wealth of Oosthuizen and Jackson, was shoved alive into a coffin, the two white men were symbollically and physically putting all black people in their place. They were recording the disciplining session to reiterate to the world that they, the land thieves, are alive, and we, the dispossessed black majority, are mere corpses. The walking dead. “Dead (wo)men walking” as Amir Sulaiman once proclaimed. 

The case of what has been deemed #CoffinAssault (true to classic South African reductionism) has been postponed to the 25 January 2017. The two racists refused bail because they feared for their lives on the outside. The irony!

Another classic South African move is forgetfulness. In a week or two people will forget about Mlotshwa, including the EFF and the ANC who have taken it upon themselves to use Mlotshwa’s case as a campaigning tool – the same ANC which prides itself on the Freedom Charter, a document which essentially says white people have rights to this land they stole; the ANC which allowed apartheid murderers to go free via the TRC and then preached the ‘Rainbow nation’. 

The EFF, which has lost any and all ounces of radicalism, has piggybacked onto the Mlotshwa case. One can almost imagine Mbuyiseni Ndlozi excitedly checking social media and running to Julius, “look, look, another racist incident! A great chance to divert attention away from our London Agenda.”

The EFF, which went into coalition with a racist party, the Democratic Alliance, calling it the “better devil”, have conveniently forgotten that a large constituency of the DA is the white farming community which dehumanises our people every single day. When handing over metros to the DA, didn’t the EFF know that that move would bolster the confidence of white racists, and thus the proliferation of such ‘incidents’?

South Africans will also forget that this is a continuation of a 350 year old battle. This was not an ‘incident’ but part of an ongoing process of dehumanization – a necessary step in maintaining the status quo of white supremacy. This was not an ‘assault’ but the core of anti-blackness playing itself out on camera. One wonders how many black people those, and many other farm ‘owners’, have stuffed into coffins, beaten, raped, merely for existing?

In an eNCA interview, Mlotshwa recounts his story. When asked, how did he manage to get free from the attackers, he answers, “I’m not yet free.”

We certainly agree.

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