Shareef Blankenberg
Shareef Blankenberg

With open eyes we wander

Brandon Huntley claims he has “opened people’s eyes” to the problem of crime in South Africa. For those not in the know, Huntley was recently granted refugee status by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada on the basis that he has given “clear and convincing proof ” that he was a “victim of his race rather than a victim of criminality” and of an “indifference and inability, or unwillingness, of the government and security forces to protect white South Africans from persecution by African South Africans”. It is also interesting to note that the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board is not a government structure but an independent body, commissioned by the government of Canada to advise on issues of immigration and emigration.

What a load of bull!

I have been mugged three times and had my home broken into. But I do not plan on immigrating to Saudi Arabia because of that! I was born in South Africa and wish that one day I can find a final resting place right here in this beautiful country of my birth.

I am convinced that the board did not take full cognizance of the current South African environment in terms of race and crime. The problem in South Africa is not the incidences of crime, it has more to do with the violent nature of crime in the country. Former deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka once asked, if a criminal intends stealing your handbag, he will find a way to do so but why does he have to assault you, maim you, or kill you for it?

I am not convinced that all crimes are racially motivated. No, it’s rather crime motivated. I was once assaulted by a white guy but I thought at the time it’s because he seemed to have been homeless, unemployed and in serious need of money, not because he was white and I happen to be black. Nor do I think that black robbers target Constantia because there are white people living there, I think it’s because the people living there are rich.

Let’s not be led (or rather misled) by emotion and forget about the facts. Fact is, most crimes in this country are committed against black people. And maybe that is simply because black people constitute the majority of the South African population. The point is that you don’t hear on the news at 7 about Thobikile Masondo of Kwadwesi being mugged and assaulted while shopping for birthday toys for his four-year-old son in PE. But if it’s Janet du Plooy, business woman of Sandton being thrown out her R1.1 million luxury German car during a hijacking, you could be sure that e-TV would immediately dispense a team to cover it.

This sentiment was echoed by the South African Institute of Race Relations’ Frans Cronje, as well as the South African Human Rights Commission.

[Now I know that some people would now want to rubbish the SAHRC comments, conveniently forgetting the praises they heaped upon the Section 9 institution recently after findings against some high-level players.]

Fact is that it was never proven that crime is race-driven generally. But let’s say that there’s some truth to Huntley’s assertion. Then why don’t we hear an outcry of racism when white farmers kill farm workers? Why don’t we hear an outpour of emotion when a young black child is assaulted by bigger, older whites? Why don’t we not petition Icasa to investigate that in the past year much more reporting was done on crimes against whites than crimes against blacks? One can easily say that this would send an image of South African crime being perpetrated by blacks up to 98% and whites generally being innocent victims persecuted simply because of the colour of their skin.

If Huntley wanted out, why didn’t he use more legitimate reasons? And, calling themselves a democracy and subscribing to the notion of social and natural justice, why did the Canadian government not ask our government (with whom they claim to have excellent relations) to comment on the claims before the board reached a decision? I mean, it is only natural to hear both sides of the story before one reaches a conclusion.

I think our government should revoke Huntley’s citizenship and refuse to ever grant him entry into our country. I don’t necessarily support former safety and security minister Charles Nqakula’s call for “whingers and moaners to leave the country” but while we are building a better society, do we really need people whose only intention is to hurt our new order?

For those who are interested, you can check this out for the July 1 2009 budget speech by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa to Parliament, as well as the speech by Deputy Minister Fikile Mbalula where you can find what is planned to revamp the police service.
All in all, I am quite excited about the way this country is going, especially with our new government. And if that means we will lose more Huntley’s, well, good riddance.