These stories were submitted by South Africans who refuse to obfuscate, deny or minimise the violence perpetrated by white people. By speaking out against white violence, the authors counter the pervasive and racist narrative of Red October that sees violence as the product of only black men, when it is a systemic scourge that affects all South Africans – and is perpetrated by all South Africans. Please submit your story to michelle at journoactivist dot com. All submissions will be published anonymously unless the author specifies otherwise.
The most horrific and violent things that happened to both me and my family were not perpetrated by the anonymous black stranger, not by anyone impoverished or convicted of criminal acts, but by people we knew. Our friends, our family. People who also happened to be white.
My mother was molested by three of her male cousins when she was young. Her mother did not believe her when she told her what had happened, and punished her for telling lies by having her father whip her with a sjambok. She and her sister were physically abused by both parents until they left home. The parents were white, extremely religious, well-educated, and well-respected in the community.
My father was badly beaten up walking home one day. His attackers were a group of friends from his high school who believed he was a sympathizer of the ANC and a communist, because he had attended a rally. They were all white, and had known him his whole life.
My brother is schizophrenic. Last year (he was 26), after a heated argument with my cousin, he attacked her with a knife, stabbing her five times. It was the most violent thing I have ever seen, or happen in my presence. She needed over thirty stitches. My brother is white. So is my cousin. She is still afraid of him.
I stayed at a male friend’s house during the last December holidays, with a bunch of other friends. I woke up in my sleeping bag one night to find him standing over me, with two of his friends, all mostly nude. They asked if I would have sex with them, that they would take turns, and that it would be fun. They said I must have been keen for it because I was sleeping apart from the other girls (I sometimes sleep-talk and prefer to be alone at night.) I said no. The friend closest to me moved forward, hands out. I flinched back, scrambled over the couch and ran to his mother’s room – I was so panicked I can’t say if he was following me or not. I pretended I was upset over a nightmare (almost true) and we talked for a couple hours. When I returned to my sleeping bag, there was no sign of the boys. I nevertheless fell asleep holding my pocket-knife. I never thought I’d have to be afraid of my friends. All of them are white. They still pretend like nothing happened.
This year (I am a Rhodes student), I have been manhandled by several men when things got heated during a hook-up, but I refused to go back to their places. I have been pushed against walls hard enough to bruise, slapped once and shoved hard enough to make me fall and sprain my wrist. It was not ok. I am never going to see these men again, and have warned every friend of mine against getting involved with them. They, incidentally, are white.
None of what I’ve said compares to the violence that is perpetrated every minute against other women and children, every day, in this country, who were born into far less privilege than I was. I am white, after all.
People hurt people. And men hurt women, often. The idea that crimes are solely or mostly black-perpetrated is not only incorrect and offensive to black people, but offensive to all those who have experienced violence at the hands of white men, and all other races.
Steve Hofmeyer should talk to a few of his Red October marchers, or anyone else in his “tribe”. Men and women. I am sure they have stories like mine to tell, but whether they would admit them, who knows. People have a way of omitting facts and memories that do not correlate with their views of the world.
Is it so easy to forget about Johan Kotze, the “Modimolle “Monster”, and what happened to Ina Bonnette?
I guess her story is a too inconvenient to remember.