South Africa has been freed from the death grip of former President Jacob Zuma, whose tenure at the head of the government was marred by years of corruption scandals and allegations of abuse of power. But the country’s wealthy landowners might soon find themselves wishing for a return to the bad old days as Cyril Ramaphosa, the country’s new president, moves ahead with his plan to heal “the original sin” from South Africa’s colonial past by redistributing land (without compensation) from wealthy white farmers to poorer black farmers.
What’s worse, the country’s economic malaise has been exacerbated by a severe drought that until recently had left Cape Town, the country’s largest city, only months away from “Day Zero” – the point at which the government would need to seriously intensify its water-rationing efforts as the city struggles with its worst drought in a century (fortunately, early rationing efforts have managed to push the crisis point back until 2019, though that could easily change).
Amid threats from government politicians that “the time for reconciliation is over”, there were 74 farm murders and 638 attacks primarily on white farmers last year, according to minority rights group AfriForum.
“Current murder tendencies indicate that we will lose more people on farms than in the past three years,” AfriForum’s Ian Cameron recently wrote.
So with South Africa coming ever closer to resembling the dystopian hellscape from the popular sci-fi movie series “Mad Max”, white South African farmers are faced with two unpalatable choices:
1) Give everything up and seek asylum in Australia
After those threats from Malema and Ramaphosa – and on the back of Australia’s offer, RT reports this week that more than 200 farmers from South Africa have applied for humanitarian visas in Australia after allegedly suffering attacks for being white, according to the Australian Home Affairs Ministry.
“The type of criteria they of course have to meet – or the key one – is evidence of persecution, so that’s exactly what we will be looking at,” Home Affairs Deputy Secretary Malisa Golightly said.
Home Affairs said 89 refugee visa applications relating to 213 people had been received, although they did not specify their ethnicity or any other details.
2) Stand and Fight!
Sky News is reporting that White South African farmers – who are facing the brunt of the president’s “land redistribution” efforts amid a surge in violent attacks against them – are employing an Israeli self-defense expert to teach them survival techniques.
Some white farmers in South Africa feel so under threat that they are learning self-defence from an ex-Israeli special forces member in case they are targeted pic.twitter.com/vl444tb8pH
— Sky News (@SkyNews) June 3, 2018
The training is being led by Idan Abolnik, a former Israeli special forces commando, who is teaching farmers hand-to-hand combat and weapons handling.
Abolnik’s program costs about 20,000 rand (roughly $1,500) per person for an intensive two-week training course. During the course, Abolnik teaches the farmers Krav Maga, a self-defense system developed by the Israeli Defense Force that has become increasingly popular abroad.
“It’s open to everyone and anyone who wants a specially designed system for farmers. We train them to deal with a variety of different attacks,” Abolnik said during an interview with South Africa’s News24 TV channel.
Despite being a minority in South Africa, white farmers own upwards of 70% of the country’s farmland. Simmering resentments over the country’s Apartheid past have inspired the new government, led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, to announce a plan to redistribute land to more black farmers – a plan that bears a disturbing resemblance to neighboring Zimbabwe’s actions in the late 1990s that plunged that country’s economy into chaos.