Monday, 18 October 2010

Spinning the news from South Africa

"The lies aren't working Tutu, we need a distraction - why don't you retire?"

Last month much of the Western press were gleefully repeating claims by South African police and government sources that there has been a significant drop in the previously rising levels of crime. There has allegedly been a fall in the number of murders by 8.6% to less than 17,000 in the last year, meanwhile street robbery is down by over 10% and sexual offences have fallen by 4.4%.

There has also allegedly been a fall of 6.8% in car jackings, which may come as a surprise to some.

This follows wide spread news reports in July stating that crime rates had fallen significantly during the world Cup

Much less reported was the fact that all charges against Nico Venter the man who had been accused of the horrific murder of 17 year old Anika Smit have been dropped.

The killing of Anika Smit received a lot of publicity in South Africa on account of its highly brutal nature and the fact that the victim’s hands had been cut off and taken by her killer.

It was this macabre aspect of the murder which led many to suspect that there may have been a muti connection to the crime. Muti killings, where body parts taken from a live and preferably conscious victim are used in tribal medicine, have been a growing problem in South Africa in the last decade or so. Hence a number of eye-brows were raised when Nico Venter, Anika Smit’s, white, ex-boyfriend was arrested and charged with killing her.

The prosecution gave no reason for dismissing the charges and Venter’s defence lawyers expressed themselves as baffled by this latest development. However, there are strong indications that there never were any grounds for charging Venter other than the obvious fact that he fitted the authorities’ preferred profile.

I suspect that the truth about Anika Smit's murder will never be told, because it would reveal a truth about the new South Africa which too many people have too much invested in hiding.

This, together with the fact finally news have started to trickle out of crimes which were committed during the world cup, including a number of farm attacks, all of which were previously unreported, inevitably make one wonder whether a significant degree of spinning is taking place.

Statistics are only as reliable as those who compile them and in a country with so many there is inevitably a temptation to embroider facts so that they suit a preferred narrative.

The universal preferred narrative during the World Cup was to showcase South Africa to the world as a happy crime free rainbow utopia. Indeed various national comparisons were made all deliberately intended to present the country which western media and politicians played such a huge role in bringing to its current state in a favourable light. The “loveable” South African s were compared to the “moody” French, the “arrogant” Brits and the “cheating” Dutch.

Some of this may have had some merit, but had the commentators taken off their deliberately rose tinted spectacles they may not have viewed the home fans in quite such a “loveable” light.

The Afrikaner Bleed paper recently revealed that there were a number of Farm attacks during the world cup, although none of them appear to have made it into the media until the foreign press had left.

In the last six to eight weeks there have been a series of attacks, both fatal and non fatal, some of which I have included in my latest update to the South of the Zambezi blog today, which can be read by clicking here and only last week the dreadful killing of Jan and Elizabeth Smit which I posted about earlier today. (As far as I know Mr. and Mrs. Smit were not related to Anika Smit)

There is, on course no mention of of the latest attacks in the Western media, and precious little reporting of them in the South African media. We are sold a lie about South Africa, the great rainbow nation. However, the day is fast approaching when that lie will be exposed. Let us hope that, when it is exposed, it is not in the manner which we who know the truth most fear.

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