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The People vs Red October

By Sipho Singiswa

Many will wonder at how almost less than six months before its 20th anniversary celebrations present-day South Africa is still plagued by racist, white supremacist hate speech spewed forth by the likes of Dan Roodt, Sunette Bridges and Steve Hofmeyr. These views get peddled and masqueraded as “freedom of speech” yet the content is purposefully intended to continue to insult and frustrate the human rights of the indigenous South African community. This is made abundantly clear in the Red October’s publications, including its Facebook pages and vile dehumanising utterances made by both its leaders and its minority support.

However it is clear to me what political shenanigans are behind this movement. As South Africa is preparing for the 2014 general elections, the leaders of these right-wing groups are simply being opportunistic and testing the ground for political manoeuvring, as well as trying to consolidate a general unity of the loose right-wing elements. They do this by inflating and exploiting the general paranoia of the privileged white minority in South Africa, which perceives itself as besieged by blackness. These white supremacists then go on to present themselves as a safety net, the great white saviour of white culture and values. To achieve this they are prepared to concoct hatred and lies, quote dubious statistics from phony sources and procure African names to hide behind while they continue to dehumanise African people. They do this by rehashing old and generally shared white supremacist views.

The white supremacists, as well as the less vocal white moderates, suffer selective amnesia with regards the indigenous people’s liberation struggle history. They forget that with few resources and lots of will black people took back this country. Perhaps a God complex afflicts the white supremacists. They frequently flaunt white persecution narratives and concoct genocide theories — this while the minority white South Africa continues to enjoy exclusive social privileges that are inaccessible to the majority indigenous African people. They continue to own huge tracts of prime land, including game parks, and live in affluent suburbs in big mansions with huge landscaped gardens — while the majority of Africans — who have no real land that they can call their own — are reduced to living in squatter camps and mostly surviving on less than a dollar a day. This social injustice has resulted in centuries of poverty and untold hardship for the majority, yet mostly the minority white South Africa continues to stubbornly turn a blind eye to this reality because, for some obscure reason it has convinced itself that South Africa is the white people’s God-given mini Europe.

It is no wonder that lately many young black South Africans are becoming more angry and vocal while grappling with the question of who exactly is free in South Africa. This distasteful barrage of dehumanising racist insults is an assault to the human dignity of black people and does not go unnoticed by the intended targets of this vitriol. This tension is purposefully fuelled by the groups such as Red October as well as publications such as die Praag, yet for some reason they seem to be getting away with this despite the fact that hate speech is a contravention of human rights.

We are also aware that some of these formations enjoy all forms of support from the conservative white corporate South Africa and western-based sources that are also upping this racist doctrine and hate speech campaign against black South African people.

Also noted is the deafening silence from the usually very vocal, but whitewashed liberal NGOs and freedom of expression activists, to this resurgence of racist insults and hate speech directed at the black community — as well as the calls advocating violence against and even advocating the killing of black people by the members and supporters of these white supremacy formations as can be seen in the photo and screengrab below. It is double standards like this that highlight the hypocrisy of the gatekeepers of our current media and civil-society landscape.

Red October 1
This Red October event photo can be found on the the Trotse Herstigte Federale Suid-Afrikaners Teen Rassehaat en Rassisme Facebook page. A group that has been recording hate speech found on social media.

This commentary was to be found on Bridges’ Facebook site. Here is a link to an album that has made screengrabs.

However, most puzzling and unacceptable is that the government of the day has not taken action against these transmitters of white racism and hatred. Perhaps they are waiting for the moment when these supremacists, drunk from the racist hatred they have been concocting and imbibing, and emboldened by the government’s lack of action against them, take to the streets and butcher a couple of innocent black people.

As an ex-MK and Robben Island prisoner, I did not fight in the struggle to accept an ongoing apartheid-based racist onslaught against my people.

Let it be known that we, the indigenous people of South Africa will not accept this dehumanising hate speech and blatant racism directed at the black South African population.

We call on government and all black people to take issue with this campaign of hatred, vitriol and racist defamation of the black people of South Africa.

The people united, will never be defeated!

Sipho Singiswa is the director of Media for Justice — (People’s voices for social justice and human rights.)

He is heading up the campaign: The People vs Red October.

To join this campaign click here.


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  1. Anti-racist Anti-racist 23 October 2013

    “However it is clear to me what political shenanigans are behind this movement.”

    • Farm murders
    • JZ783
    • EFF
    • MK
    • ZANC
    • Dubula iBunu
    • Jimmy Manyi
    plenty of racist shenanigans there…

    Racism is racism. You need to oppose all of it

  2. Kieran Frost Kieran Frost 23 October 2013

    Sipho, for the large part I agree with everything you’ve voiced here – Red October is an insult to the very memories of those who lost their lives in the struggle for liberation. The campaign triviolises the atrocities that still occur today as a direct result of the unequal distribution of wealth in our country. I cannot claim to know what it must be like to grow up under Apartheid as a black person – I’m white and I grew up after liberation – but that does not preclude me from having the ability to try to understand. To learn.

    That being said, I’m somewhat concerned that your critique of Red October runs the risk of generalising the depravity of their (Red October’s) concerns to other white citizens. In particular, “whitewashed liberal NGOs and freedom of expression activists” are accused of being silent. I disagree. Some of the most vocal opponents of Red October are white South Africans who are as enraged as you to see the pig-headed racism that Red October displays – particularly on social media. Please don’t class people like this as being the same as proponents of Red October or you run the risk of doing exactly what Red October has done – playing the man, and not the ball.

    As to your insistance of government intervention, if government were to intervene, how do you propose they seperate this issue from the Malema ‘Shoot the Boer’ instance in any real sense? Rather let Hofmeyer and his cohorts fade into obscurity were they will get all the attention…

  3. Jem Jem 23 October 2013

    I hate hate speech, I hate Red October and I would like to join your call to the government to stand up against it even though you didn’t ask me to and I’m a little offended by your article. Perhaps you could change your wording to make it clear that it is a (very small) minority of the white population of South Africa who is supporting this. Their facebook page has 14 681 likes. 2011 census puts the white population at 4 586 838.
    The fundamental problem with the Red October campaign (before you even get to the hate speech) is that it is racially exclusive, concerned only with violence and crime against white people, inviting white people to stand in solidarity on the basis of their race. Yet you are also racially divisive, calling on “all black people to take issue with this campaign of hatred” and stand in solidarity against crimes against black people. Shouldn’t you be calling on everyone? or are the Red October founders right that we should only be concerned with crimes against “our own people”.
    Until we break down these divides and stand as South Africans; against crime and violence no matter who (or what colour) the perpetrators and victims; against racism and hatred, because it is wrong and violates our hard won constitution, not just because it is directed at us, our race, religion, gender, nationality or any other group we might ascribe to; until we say we are people first, we have not yet succeeded against those architects of aparthied and we are still…

  4. Deon Deon 23 October 2013

    Please note the following Bill of Rights are being violated by this campaign, Sections:
    12. Freedom and security of the person;
    15. Freedom of religion, belief and opinion
    16. Freedom of expression
    17. Assembly, demonstration, picket and petition
    18. Freedom of association
    19. Political rights
    21. Freedom of movement and residence
    30. Language and culture
    31. Cultural, religeous and linguistic communities
    36. Limitation of rights

  5. Tofolux Tofolux 23 October 2013

    @Sipho, we are giving these people too much airtime. In fact, the gathering of their ‘wannabe’ red oct was a gathering of less than 100 or save to say less than 50ppl. This out of a majority of millions. Now clearly, unless there are no other civil issue, why are we paying any attention to a handful of people who’s ideas and ideology is so yestayear. Not only is it ludicrous, their ideas are laughable and it enjoys NO discussion amongst the majority of citizens. Hence why are paying so much attention to wealthy minorities and forget about the real issues of the african majority!

  6. Amanda Amanda 23 October 2013

    Hi Sipho, You are indeed an angry man. I can understand that you feel angry about the hate speech that some white people put on facebook and twitter, that kind of language are unacceptable. However please bear in mind that the right wing afrikaners are a small minority, most of us are moderate and does not approve of hate speech BUT there is a other side of the coin also. Black people can also do hate speech, I have read some of those on twitter. What about Malema who sings “kill the boer”. Is that not a hate song? Taking into consederation that many farmers get killed grusomely on their farms today, can you understand that a song like that will angry white people? I have noted that you have underlined in red about some-one mentioning a revolution. Black people also speaks about revolution, in fact black people speeks more about revolution as white people. I have read their comments myself. Whites are the minority, blacks are the majority, the government is black, the municipalities are black ect and you still feel infuriate by a small group of righ wing afrikaners? There is BEEE and black empowerment ect and you are 10 times more than us whites, stop moaning and rather work on a better South-Africa.

  7. Jo Ku Jo Ku 23 October 2013

    It is amazing how a group of white people protesting(peacefully, no damaging private property, burning, plundering etc) for their rights to be respected as a minority group and all South Africans in general; go read the memorandum that was handed to the Presidency, are branded all sort of things, i.e. Racist, communist, Nazi’s etc. Where are all you critics, what exactly are you doing to improve SA. Please write an article about the following video clip as well and declare your utmost discuss. Please I dare you!

  8. patricia patricia 23 October 2013

    Sipho, the whole world is racist. I think we must find another name for this ‘despicable’ word. Google any country and you will find some issue with colour, creed, class, religion or culture. It is what it is. And nobody can change it, it is ALL OVER the world unfortunately. Also found in people of colour amongst themselves with different tribes or against each other. check the Indians with coloured people, the Arabs against any others, on and on it goes. The story is outworn and as old as Noah’s ark. Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent :Oprah.

    Move onto something else!

  9. Götterdämmerung Götterdämmerung 23 October 2013

    Funny how the writer describes the Red October movement as racist….yet most of the people from Red October at yesterday’s court appearance of the murderer of David and Ralie de Villiers were people of colour. Also funny that there are numerous pieces of photographic evidence that not only whites attended the marches. Must be an optical illusion or racist camera lenses.

  10. John John 23 October 2013

    Agreed, But its a bit one sided don’t you think? I have seen numerous comments on other pages where the exact same type of racism comes from black folks.

  11. Ben Ben 23 October 2013

    Sipho, what about the blatant racism displayed by EFF?

  12. jaded jaded 23 October 2013

    those of us caught between juju and stevie we need to ask ourselves a very simple question:
    Do we want a country full of racists or don’t we?

    If (as I hope) your answer is ‘no’… then what difference does the skin colour of the racist make… in other words… why are we not condemning juju and steve in one breath?

  13. Momma Cyndi Momma Cyndi 23 October 2013

    I find the attention that a handful of delusional people can get, in South Africa, to be distressing in the extreme. The fact that everyone is writing about it as if there were three or four million people at this mummers farce is equally distressing. Just because the inhabitants of Oranja decided to take a trip to see what the 21st century looks like, it doesn’t mean that this is an all prevailing white belief.

    Oh, and our president has a cowshed that is worth more than my ‘mansion’ – you want my ‘mansion’, I suggest you work it out with the bank that hold the morgage for it

  14. Thobani Mtolo Thobani Mtolo 23 October 2013

    I’m quite disppointed with Red October and the subleminal messages sent to us Africans myself, but hate does not defeat hate. To allow ourselves to combat the matter with the same lack of thought is more self-distructive than constructive. We should focus on liberating ourselves and the fellow human from the dehumanizing nature of repression both for the former opressor and opressed. Only we the former opressed can lead our nation to true freedom.

  15. John John 23 October 2013

    Sipho, you are right. Hate speech is deplorable, irresponsible, unnecessary.

    Having said that, it does seem that you are a selective hater of hate speech, since I found no mention in your article of the hate speech emanating from Malema and his buddies, for example.

    I may of course be wrong, but that is the impression I got.

  16. Graham Graham 24 October 2013

    Have to say, I would have no idea what Red October was if it was not the topic of every second Thoughtleader article.

    Agree with Tofolux, why so much airtime?

  17. justmythought justmythought 24 October 2013

    Sipho, you seem to find problems only when racism is directed at black people. What about the wise words of Julius? Dubula ibhuna?
    Is it only racism when its white on black?
    You say as an ex MK…bla….bla…bla, you did not fight to accept an ongoing apartheid-based racist onslaught against my people…..are your people only BLACKS? Do you not consider other South African races your people?
    Did you fight for democracy so that crime/rape/murder/nepotism can take over the country?
    Seems to me like you have more important things to fight against, rather than Red October.
    Your very own eyes are so tainted with hatred and racism, that you cannot be an objective person!

  18. allandra allandra 24 October 2013

    Will you also create a webpage The People vs EFF?

  19. Mark Mark 25 October 2013

    I enjoy how this country generalises eveything and partitions everyone into neat well defined boxes. I am a white male (least favourable demographic in current RSA) and do not support red october because there is no logic to their debate. There is no slaughter of any race by another. The fact of the matter is that crime is imparted on everybody by rampant criminals who live out of reach of the law. But the response from the black audience is not to point this stupidity out, but to categorise all white people as racists and hoping that if you repeat the phrase “white supremecist” enough people will believe it like subliminal messaging.

    So I do not support red october and now I do not support Sipho, because you are all detracting the necessary debate we need to move forward positively. There are no thoughtleaders left in this country. Eish.

  20. Odette Odette 31 December 2013

    I merely wish to inquire whether it could be possible to point out that I as a South African citizen, do not support the likes of Red October OR Economic Freedom Front, because of both sides’ racist rhetoric.

    I think that white people in general would never support such a idotic, moronic organization such as Red October. Please note the use of the word “general.” There are indeed members of the white community who support these s****** organizations without realizing the kind of k** endorsed by the racists that you have mentioned in your article.

    I am a South African citizen.
    As a citizen, I advocate that we, all of South Africa’s citizens, take a firm stand and not yield to the mewling racists, who wish to spoil our progress and drag back to the Dark Ages(read:Apartheid).
    We (read: the whole of South Africa) must take the racists to task and firmly deal with these noisy nuisances, who blast us with hellish hate.
    We, the people , shall not tolerate racists.

    End of discussion.

  21. Odette Odette 31 December 2013

    @Thobani Mtolo
    You are right, in which you clearly state that one cannot fight hate with hate.

    In my previous post I stated that we must take racists to task about the views that racists endorse. However I also recognise that these racists in our society do also have the right to speak their mind and indeed , for many progressive whites, the members of the white community who support racist organisations seem strange and outdated. But we, the whites, need to recognise that in order for South Africa to function as a full fledged democracy , whites,myself included, need to respect views that differ from our own.

    I wish to state that, yes I recognise that I am white.
    Yes, I realise that I am extremely ignorant and limited in my thinking and yes, I do fall into the trap of dichotomous thinking.

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