Senekal and Brackenfell: need to confront racist attitudes


President Cyril Ramaphosa says while racism-fuelled incidents, which were deeply disturbing, do not represent the broader reality of South Africa, there is a need to confront racist attitudes and to continuously condemn any form of racism.

The President said this when he fielded oral questions in the National Assembly on Thursday.

“While the Senekal and Brackenfell incidents show how much of our past remains with us, they do not reflect the broader South African reality.

“We are a country that has changed for the better over the last 26 years.

“Our task now, not just as government, but as broader society, is to act together to end all forms of racism, racial division and racial inequality.

“We need to consistently confront racist attitudes and condemn all instances of racist behaviour. Those who want to perpetuate racial tensions must know they are in a dwindling minority,” he said.

This comes after police defused a stand-off between white farmers and EFF supporters outside of the local magistrates court in Senekal last month following the murder of local businessman Brendin Horner.

A few days ago, tensions boiled over in Brackenfell when white parents were recorded attacking EFF protesters outside Brackenfell High School after the latter went to hold a protest against an alleged white-only matric dance at the school.

“The racial polarisation that characterised the protests in Senekal – and indeed more recently at Brackenfell High School – were deeply disturbing and I was deeply concerned about them because they go against the kind of society we are seeking to build.

“They demonstrate the extent to which racial attitudes still infect our society, and how quickly they can resurface at moments of crisis.

“At the same time, we need to acknowledge that the situation in Senekal was quickly defused, the law is being allowed to take its course, and the racial rhetoric that accompanied the protests was condemned by organisations and individuals across society,” he said.

The President said government, through its policies and programmes, continues to reduce the material inequality between white and black South Africans – just as it seeks to address the differences between men and women.

He said this was done, among others, through the provision of free basic services to the building of houses, from improving public transport to providing social support, from no-fee schools to free tertiary education for the poor.

“It is this goal – of reducing inequality – that informs our approach to the National Health Insurance, to the development of township and rural economies, to the accelerated redistribution of land, and to our support for black industrialists.

“By making progress in these areas, in increasing levels of investment and creating jobs on a far larger scale, we will steadily reduce the material differences between black and white South Africans.

“In doing so, we will improve the conditions for lasting reconciliation and unity in our country.

“This is a task to which this government is committed, and to which the vast majority of South Africans – black and white – are committed.”