The Cape Storm & Knysna fire: What Happened?
The city of Cape Town and the town of Kynsna have been at the mercy of some intense weather this last week. The massive storm that hit Cape Town, expected to be by far the worst in 30 years (1), had schools and universities cancelled for the following two days. I understood why this decision was made when on Wednesday morning I found a sizable piece of my neighbour’s roof in my backyard, and numerous trees uprooted and left in the roads. I even saw a man and his bike pushed off of the side of a road because of a quick and sudden gust of wind. Trains were cancelled, there were reports of rock falls and coastal swells of up to 16 meters high, and many schools were damaged. The wind, accompanied by bouts of strong rain, did a lot of flood and physical damage to townships and neighbourhoods throughout the city.
However, it wasn’t long until trouble in the town of Knysna hit headlines. A fire broke out near the town. Fire fighters tried their best to combat the blaze but ultimately to no avail. The winds that had hit Cape Town (310 miles away) were so strong that they pushed the fire transforming it into an unstoppable inferno. It reached Knysna and the authorities had no alternative other than to evacuate some 10 000 residents by bus. 150 South African troops were deployed to combat attempts at theft amidst the chaos. Communications were hampered after the fire destroyed 300 telephone poles and kilometers of fibre optic cables (2). I could only imagine the chaos that went on up there since I am well familiar with the town, limited to a handful of exit routes by road (3). Sadly eight people, including a fire fighter, lost their lives in this chaos, with an entire family, including a three year old, succumbing to the flames. Many of those who survived watched as their possessions turned to soot.
I personally want to send out a huge thanks to many of my fellow South Africans who pulled together to get through these last few tough days. These being the people who opened their homes to the homeless in Cape Town and the fire victims in Knysna, who gave away simple but much needed items like clothing and blankets, and so on. However, not all can be said to be good.
The Anti-White Racism.
Unfortunately, there was a deluge of anti-White racism in the mix too. One racist Black man of questionable intelligence, Andile Mngxitama of the Black Land First movement, blames the storm on “white monopoly capital” (4). Basically, the storm was the White man’s fault, as he himself states on Twitter. But to his credit Mngxitama did make at least one good point saying that “The Cape Storms are going to kill black people. Why? Because colonialism and apartheid have placed blacks in harm’s way in order to provide protection to whites.” I find this true. The overwhelming majority of Blacks live in poor conditions in the townships surrounding Cape Town, largely the result of forced removal by the racist government of Apartheid. It is no secret that when the natural elements come full force that these Black people suffer the worst. My heart, thoughts and prayers go out to all of them. They are always at the forefront of my mind during times like these. Beyond this observation there is little worth engaging in Mngxitama’s piece.
We will return to Mngxitama in a moment, but similar racist sentiments were shared by other Black South Africans too. Here I thank Renaldo Gouws, a local YouTuber who exposes racism in all its forms (5). These are some of the horrific comments:
Seabe’s is by far the most horrific. There is little doubt that she wished the fire had targeted White people specifically while Black people were left untouched. This isn’t technically hate speech, she isn’t inciting the destruction of an entire population based on their race, but she hopes that such suffering will happen; fire or flood it doesn’t matter to her, either will work.
Savagee found the fire a reason to smile and celebrate because the town is apparently populated by a majority of White people. Obviously the more White people there are, the higher the chance that they will be in the firing line. This not only shows how hatefully racist Savagee is, bit also how out of touch with reality he is. 36.1% of the town is Black, quite a bit higher than the 21% white population. But it is my hope, and the hope of millions of other South Africans, that no-one would suffer regardless of their ethnicity. In a time of disaster and suffering statistics and demographics are irrelevant, a person is a person no matter what.
Does God Punish White People?
Moreover, the following two comments suggest that God is behind these disasters as a means of punishment.
Some Blacks believe (probably hope too) that God intends to come down hard on the White race for the sins of apartheid; this is suggestive of a woeful theology. They may hope so, but how rational is such a view? Not very. Firstly, if God wanted to punish White people, and actually did it, he has done an incredibly poor job. Recently, a member within the ruling party tweeted that the severe drought inflicting the Western Cape was God’s means of punishment of White people because that is where most Whites live (6). Well, Black, Coloured, and White South Africans are all victims of the draught. Maybe God forgot that Black people also lived in the area? When it comes to fires and storms, and the floods brought on by storms, Blacks are the ones who suffer the worst. Fire in the township? Well, forget the fire engine because its not going to fit, we’ll need to use buckets. In fact, research suggests that provinces where a majority of Blacks live are the worst off in just about every possible way; they are the poorest and worst run and funded (7), and the healthcare is lamentable (8). Again, God must be terrible at punishing the people he wants to punish because there always seems to be unexpected casualties. But let us entertain this a little further. Why suppose God would punish someone for the sins committed by another? Why would God punish a White person in modern South Africa for the sins of Hendrik Verwoerd or Jan van Riebeeck? Or, by logical consequence, why doesn’t God punish the innocent nephew of a serial killer or the innocent daughter of a rapist? I hope you see the bad logic here. Even more, should God punish an innocent for the sins of another, then why worship him? If God targeted White people specifically as ripe for punishment for sins they did not commit, then he’d be a racist. Who wants to worship a racist? Well, evidently some people.
But returning to Mngxitama, we needn’t be surprised by his blatant racism. In a debate I viewed recently on Radical Economic Transformation he was profoundly derogatory and racist towards a White opponent. He basically claimed that White South Africans are colonialists, that they shouldn’t be allowed a voice, and that they should be in jail. He also denied that Black people have the ability to be racist. Are you shocked? Don’t be, as I said, Mngxitama is a man of questionable intelligence. Fortunately, because of his article Mngxitama has become the butt of the joke for many Black and White South Africans (9). This is encouraging because many can spot stupidity when it rears its head and speaks. But jokes aside, it is really unfortunate that this is what we have to deal with as South Africans. We live in an already fragile society, and one that requires our collective effort to rebuild racial relations. We simply cannot afford to replace racism with more racism.
But why, one might ask, do I focus on this issue and these few racist comments? Why, when so many South Africans of all races have pulled together over the last week, do I focus on a debauched minority? Simply because it needs to be done, and someone needs to do it. The White minority needs a voice, especially when they are the victims of Black racism, individually or collectively. Contemporary South Africa is one of double standards on racism. It is one where a White woman who called Black beachgoers monkeys was fined a massive R150 000 or would face jail time. It is also a country where a Black government employee called for the mass extermination of White South Africans in the same way Hitler did to the Jews but got off scot-free without any consequences whatsoever. It is also one where incidents involving White on Black racism receive far more media coverage than Black on White (10). That is the narrative we need to break in this country. That is the narrative I will fight.
*Again, thanks to all the South Africans who pulled together at this time. May we continue to do so, and may our collective voices drown out this racist minority.
1. TMG Digital. 2017. Cape Storm: Worst is still to come‚ forecasters warn. Available.
2. Chambers, D. 2017. Knysna on its knees: As fires continue to blaze‚ town battles with power‚ water and communications. Available.
3. BBC News. 2017. South Africa: 10,000 Knysna residents evacuated amid fire. Available.
4. Herman, P. 2017. Cape storms the fault of ‘white monopoly capital’ – Mngxitama. Available.
5. Gouws, R. 2017. The Knysna Fires | South Africa. Available.
6. News24. 2017. Hasane mum on ‘punish white people’ tweet. Available.
8. NGO Pulse. 2011. EC is South Africa’s Poorest Province. Available.
9. Comments on Mngxitama Twitter Status. Available.
10. Seeth, A. 2017. More media coverage, consequences for white racists than black racists – Solidarity. Available.