Genocide myth busters vow to separate white from wrong
Group is out to fight ‘Swart Gevaar’ fear-mongering and debunk the idea there is a plot to kill whites in SA
A group of South African activists is fighting back against international campaigns that depict South Africa as a boiling hub of genocide.
The Facebook page, Busting the Myth of White Genocide in SA, was launched last month to dispel notions that whites are being slaughtered and raped, and their land pillaged, as part of an organised war on whites.
Run by an anonymous group calling itself The Geoffs, the page has gained followers from across the globe.
Through Internet image searches, the group debunks fake videos, e-mails, photographs, documents, WhatsApp messages and fraudulent social media accounts that sound warnings of onslaughts against whites.They use data gathered from Stats SA, AgriSA, the Transvaal Agricultural Union, the police and AfriForum to show how claims about the number of white farmers who are murdered are being skewed to suit certain narratives.
The Geoffs, responding to questions from Times Select, said they launched their campaign because they “love South Africa, our people, cultures and diversity of our nation”.
“The white genocide narrative is a dangerous and divisive myth steadily gaining traction internationally. It’s a rehashing of ‘Swart Gevaar’ fear-mongering. The implication is not just that white people are facing genocide, but that black South Africans are the perpetrators in some kind of vast, government-sanctioned conspiracy.
“This is nothing but a white-supremacist lie with a very particular racist, power-driven agenda behind it. We are tired of how this myth has been perpetuated and of the sheer scale of its dissemination – not just of the fear and paranoia it creates within white South Africans’ hearts, but the hatred that it brews too.”
The Geoffs said when they started their page they “received multiple thinly veiled threats almost daily”.These ranged from “mass reporting our page [to Facebook] in attempts to have us taken down, to wanting to know our names and personal details”.
This prompted them to remain anonymous.
In the past week, AfriForum leaders have toured the US where the South African right-wing group, The Suiderlanders, has also recently been campaigning for support. AfriForum’s campaign is said to have garnered huge support among US, European and Australian supremacy groups.
When North West University lecturer Professor Elmien du Plessis questioned AfriForum's motives last week, several of the organisation’s followers threatened her and her family with violence.
The campaigns follow Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull having to back-pedal earlier this year to avoid a diplomatic row with the South African government after his Home Affairs minister, Peter Dutton, offered to help white South African farmers fast-track refugee visas.
Dutton made his offer after saying land expropriation without compensation in South Africa threatened white farmers’ livelihood.On the Busting the Myth Facebook page, the group – which includes architects, artists and researchers who have families and friends living on farms in South Africa – say they are young activists who aim to provide a platform for sharing credible and accurate facts and statistics “regarding what some would have you believe is the scourge of black on white crime in rural South Africa”.
“We are here to arm you with facts. What we are not saying is that farmers and farmworkers do not die from violent crimes. We are aware of that reality. We are not here to erase the trauma and tragedy. No one should suffer a violent crime.”
The Geoffs said crime was a reality all South Africans faced and the country needed to unite to fight it. But the propaganda was damaging to all South Africans.
“If these lies are allowed to spread unchecked in international media, the consequences could be devastating. We do not stand for it. We will call it out at every turn.”The group monitors several right-wing groups on Facebook, who continually call for the “wiping out” of black people, as well as for the creation of ethno-states for whites.
“They [right-wing groups] are building followings at astronomical rates, up to tens of thousands. They also use the ‘white genocide’ myth to gather recruits for civilian militias like the Kommandokorps and Boerelegioen.”
They said they had come across several Facebook pages where white nationalists planned terror attacks, “with a degree of seriousness that chilled us all to the bone”. They had reported them to the authorities,
The Geoffs say they run their Facebook page to help defuse paranoia and debunk baseless propaganda. “We hope our efforts will help achieve greater racial harmony in our country by exposing lies and falsehoods being propagated by extreme right-wing factions.”