South Africa: Where Corruption, Rape and Murder Are Normal

South Africa: Where Corruption, Rape and Murder Are Normal

GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images
The unthinkable is now reality. Only in Africa?
From the December 2013 Trumpet Print Edition

I met a woman from South Africa the other day. What she said shocked me.

“Not long ago, I thought I was going to get raped and murdered by the police.”

What?

She was on her way home to her acreage in a farming community outside Johannesburg when she approached a four-way stop.

“This intersection is known for carjackings,” she said. “No one stops. You just slow down enough to make sure you are not going to hit anyone, and keep going.

“You know what happens to people who get carjacked?” she asked.

I had a vague idea, I thought. But I actually didn’t have a clue.

The next thing she knew, flashing lights appeared in her rearview mirror. It was the reservist police—basically volunteer police officers.

“There was no way I was stopping,” she said. “Even if it really was the police, who knows what they might have done to me.” She stomped on the gas. “Up where I live, when the police try to pull you over, you just head for the nearest police station and hope you make it.”

She didn’t. She was rammed off the road. “Lucky I was driving a big truck,” she said matter-of-factly. “I kept going.”

She phoned to confirm that the police were real, and to let someone else know what was going on and to come and find her. Then she pulled to a stop.

And she went from being a motorist on the way home to a woman alone in a field with a bunch of armed, angry men yelling at her and telling her she was going to jail.

“Do you know what happens to white girls in jail?” she asked.

Thankfully, she didn’t go to jail, and she didn’t get attacked in the field. And it was a good thing after all that she didn’t make it to the police station either; she later learned that the one she was headed for was one of the “bad” ones.

“So many of the police are thugs and criminals,” she said. “You can’t trust them. And you don’t even know if they really are the police. People steal police cars. They have uniforms, and even bulletproof vests. Then you see it on the news, women brutally raped and murdered, or tortured.” Yes, by police officers.

“People are raped all the time,” she said. “It is part of the culture.”

The mainstream media report regularly on atrocities in Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Syria. We rarely hear about South Africa. But what is happening there is deeply troubling—for a number of reasons. It also holds some powerful lessons for those of us who live elsewhere.

Fact of Life: Rape Culture

This might seem like just one person’s subjective opinion. But if you look up the facts, they will stun you even more. If you have a daughter, think about her. Then think about this: One out of three South African girls will be raped before she turns 18.

Almost three out of four South African women have been sexually abused at least once.

South African women have a greater chance of being raped than of graduating from high school.

What kind of country is this?

Where is the outcry? Why isn’t this all over the news? Why aren’t women’s groups crying out at the top of their lungs? Why aren’t people demonstrating? This is South Africa, a country considered modern and civilized. Now it has descended—without much fuss, apparently—into a jungle of chaos.

Yet even South Africans don’t really understand what is happening to their country. They feel the temperature rising, but seem dulled to the danger.

One recent study examined about 250 reported rapes from 2005 to 2007 that occurred in the vicinity of one small town. More than half of the reported victims were children. Yet, only nine of the accused were convicted. Only seven received jail sentences.

Two hundred and fifty rapists—seven convicted. Yet, no media firestorm. No international protest. The incomprehensible has become a fact of life for South Africans. They have a saying for this: Only in Africa.

Several men were accused of five or six rapes, according to the study’s authors. Not one was convicted. Only in Africa.

An astounding 66,000 rapes occur in South Africa each year—one every four minutes. Interpol says this makes South Africa the rape capital of the world. According to experts, rape is so common, justice is so rarely served, and so many women have been raped so many times that many women don’t bother reporting it.

That’s just the way it is in South Africa.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that a police constable was still working for the force even though he had been accused of 14 rapes over the past two years—some of which allegedly took place while he was in uniform. That follows the arrest of a police officer accused of raping a 14-year-old boy, and another officer accused of raping a woman who came to the police station to report a crime.

Log on to South Africa’s Independent Police Investigative Directorate website (http://www.ipid.gov.za/media_statements/media_statements.asp) and see for yourself. In September, two constables were arrested for rape, one of them for raping a female inmate. In August, a captain was arrested on rape charges. In July, four more constables were arrested for various rapes, one for multiple counts. Another police captain was arrested for raping a woman in his police car and threatening to kill her and her family if she reported it. And a 41-year-old warrant officer was arrested for raping a 14-year-old girl multiple times.

It is not just police officers. Cosatu General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi was embroiled in an alleged rape and blackmail scandal earlier this year. A few years ago, it was President Jacob Zuma himself. Some judges even seem to empathize with rapists. Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng is accused of reducing sentences because the rapists are poor—and black.

A 2010 Medical Research Foundation survey found that more than 37 percent of men admitted to raping at least one woman. Seven percent said they had participated in a gang rape. The researchers found that with many of the men, the idea of forcing someone to have sex with them was trivial, and “seen as a legitimate activity.” A 2007 survey found similar results.

A legitimate activity? Are these 18.9 million men out of their minds?

In February, a 17-year-old girl was brutally gang-raped, gutted and dumped, still alive, at a construction site. She was discovered and taken to the hospital, where she died. The story made international headlines. But in South Africa? There were some small protests, but then life went on.

And so did the brutality.

An 80-year-old woman was raped by her 18-year-old neighbor. A 26-year-old was abducted from her house and gang-raped. A man committed suicide while in jail after being accused of raping 33 girls and 2 women.

Experts say many young men rape women to prove their manhood. Sometimes it is part of gang initiations. Other times it is “corrective rape” to convert suspected lesbians. Many other rapes are due to tribal witch doctors who claim that having sex with a virgin will cure aids. Experts say this is why there are so many reports of babies and children—5-year-olds, 3-year-olds, 2-year-olds—being raped.

In 2007, the Joint United Nations Program on hiv/aids said there were 22.5 million South Africans with hiv, the virus that causes aids. That is twice the number of hiv-positive people in the rest of the world combined.

Fact of Life: Police Are Criminal

How do you live in a society where rape is considered legitimate by so many? In a society that reveres witch doctors and voodoo magic? In a country where the most important institutions are irreversibly corrupt? You get cynical, it seems. You go numb.

“No one trusts the police or any government institution anymore,” said the woman I met. “Not long ago, the army was fighting the police.”

Surely she was exaggerating.

Sadly, she was not. In July, Transparency International released its 2013 Global Corruption Barometer report. It found South Africa to be among the most corrupt countries in the world. According to its findings, an astounding 83 percent of South Africans believe that the police force is corrupt. And 36 percent of respondents admitted to paying at least one bribe to the police.

South Africa’s shadow minister of police Dianne Kohler-Barnard said that upon reflection, she wasn’t surprised at the findings. The recent murder of people in broad daylight by police officers was an indication of the nature of the country’s police force, she said. “Police demand bribes each time they stop a car, and they threaten those who refuse to pay bribes. … Police steal from houses of victims of crime when they go to their houses to get statements from the victim. … There is this issue or tendency of circulating criminal elements within the police by moving them from one station to another instead of dismissing them,” she said.

In July, an internal South African police force audit revealed that 1,448 police employees, including a major general, 10 brigadiers, 21 colonels, 43 lieutenant colonels, 10 majors, 163 captains and 706 warrant officers, had undisclosed criminal convictions for murder, attempted murder, homicide, rape, attempted rape, assault, aiding and abetting, theft, breaking and entering, drug trafficking, kidnapping, robbery, malicious damage to property, and domestic violence. The vast majority were top brass. The same audit found that there were “serious challenges” regarding the management of discipline in the department.

In recent years, the police force has become internationally notorious for its brutality and corruption. Nine policemen were arrested earlier this year for murder, but only after a video surfaced showing them tying a man to a van and dragging him through the streets before killing him. And in May, a policeman was caught on tape pimping a policewoman to a man in a mall parking lot.

Fact of Life: Whites Are Targeted

And as bad as it is for South Africans in general, if you are an Afrikaner farmer, it is worse.

“The white farmers are being targeted,” said the South African woman. “But the government won’t do anything about it.”

Again, the statistics confirm what she said.

Last year, South Africa had an astoundingly high murder rate of 31.9 per 100,000 people, according to police statistics. That is almost 20 times the murder rate of Canada, 27 times the rate in the United Kingdom, and more than 30 times the rate in Australia or New Zealand. South Africa’s murder rate is almost twice as high as Rwanda, Chad, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe.

But for white farmers in South Africa, the murder rate is 99 per 100,000!

That makes farming in South Africa the most dangerous profession in the world—if you are white! For black farmers, the murder rate is the average.

White farmers are twice as likely to be murdered as South African police officers, and that is saying a lot. Their station in life—growing crops, raising livestock and being white—is more dangerous than working in a mine, welding steel on a skyscraper, or working as an offshore oil rigger.

Genocide Watch, an international monitoring agency, says there is no doubt that white farmers are being targeted. South Africa sits at stage five out of eight on its warning indicator. This is actually a slight improvement from August 2012, when the international organization warned the country was in the “preparation stage” in the genocide process. Stage seven is “extermination.” The group noted that high-ranking African National Congress (anc) government officials were using racial epithets in a “campaign of state-sponsored dehumanization of the white population as a whole.” It warned that politicians were sanctioning gang-organized hate crimes against whites, with the goal of “terrorizing whites through fear of genocidal annihilation.”

White Afrikaner farmers face unprovoked brutality and disproportionately high numbers of victims who are tortured and mutilated—burned with hot pokers, scalded with boiling water poured down their throats, hacked apart. Yet prominent anc politicians, including President Zuma, sing hate songs in public that have lyrics glorifying the killing of white farmers.

“The other day, when we were having lunch—I couldn’t tell you how bad it is, it would have made you sick,” said my South African acquaintance. “About 10 klicks just down the road where I used to live, three blacks broke into a house, tied up the husband, gang-raped and killed the wife, before stabbing him like 14 times and chopping him with a panga [machete] and spreading the parts all over the house. Then they took their young son and drowned him in boiling water.”

It was almost too gruesome to believe. “That kind of stuff happens all the time,” she said. Praag.org reported that the three accused grinned in court as they admitted to the charges.

According to CensorBugbear, a prominent South African website chronicling the plight of the white farmers, May was the bloodiest month this year, but not by much. There were 69 attacks, 101 victims, 20 murders, 20 farm attacks—many of them horribly gruesome.

Over 3,000 white farmers have been murdered since the end of apartheid, according to Genocide Watch. Twenty years ago, there were 60,000 farmers. Today there are 30,000.

On August 8, two men were convicted of killing a 77-year-old man and his wife on their farm in Somerset. The husband was hacked to pieces. The wife was tied up, thrown in a freezer, and buried in frozen meat. She suffocated to death.

According to the police, the motivation was robbery.

On August 11, four men broke into 57-year-old Vivien Ponté’s home. She was tied to her bed, raped and lit on fire. Her house was ransacked, but it is unclear if anything was stolen.

Just another robbery gone bad.

On August 15, an 83-year-old Volksrust woman was assaulted, raped and left for dead, lying naked on the floor.

The list of “robberies” goes on.

Fact of Life: The Government Ignores Reality

“So why don’t the police protect the white farmers?” I asked.

“They say it would be racist to protect them because they are white,” she replied.

Racist to protect someone?

In police spokesman Zweli Mnisi’s own words, “For us, racializing crime is problematic. You can’t have a separate category that says, farmers are the special golden boys and girls. You end up saying the life of a white person is more important. You cannot do this.”

The government no longer records the race of criminals or their victims. Former President Thabo Mbeki established that policy because the record-keeping was deemed racist.

So the government pretends the atrocious murders and rapes are just robberies gone wrong, and the viciousness continues. And the white farmers die.

What angers the white farmers even more is that the government won’t even let them defend themselves.

Beginning in 2003, the government began disbanding the rural commando units used to protect the remote farming communities that did not have police protection. The government said the commandos were unconstitutional and promised special police units to replace them. In 2008, the last commando unit was disbanded.

To this day, the special police forces still haven’t arrived.

Then in 2010, the government passed gun-control laws mandating that all guns be re-registered. In the process of registration, more than half the applicants were turned down and their weapons were seized.

Thus, white farmers were forced to relinquish their last line of defense against mobs of criminal gangs roaming the countryside. The criminals, of course, weren’t silly enough to register their machine guns.

The Good Old Days?

Africa has changed a lot since the end of apartheid 20 years ago.

Many blacks will tell you things are better for them today, and in some ways they are. Blacks and people of mixed races are free to travel wherever they want and no longer need to get passes to enter certain parts of the country. They can vote, and they now dominate the government. They run the military and police forces. There are quota laws mandating that businesses hire non-whites first. The government has a land reform process in which it uses tax revenue to purchase land owned by white people to give to blacks. The government also builds free housing to give to blacks. And of course, there are no more “Whites Only” signs at train stations.

But most things are not better. Black-on-black crime is through the roof. In the slums, where the police fear to tread, “necklacing” is frequent. Vigilantes beat accused criminals to exhaustion before forcing vehicle tires over their shoulders, dousing them with gasoline and lighting them on fire. What is left is hardly recognizable.

So it really isn’t that astounding that growing numbers of non-white South Africans—especially the older generation that lived during apartheid—admit to a certain longing for the old days. The reasons are obvious and transcend race. South Africa’s crime rate is among the highest in the world. Its official unemployment rate is around 26 percent, but it is probably a lot higher. Its public institutions are corrupt, and law and order is failing. Beyond the police force, Transparency International found that 74 percent of people think all public officials and civil servants are corrupt or extremely corrupt, while 70 percent believe the whole political system is corrupt.

Then there is the obviously decaying infrastructure. Regular and unplanned power blackouts are now just part of South African life. Generation and transmission systems are all failing. What isn’t buried underground is stolen. Sometimes the underground wires are stolen too. Tens of thousands of people inhabit suburbs that are plunged into darkness at random times. Hundreds are regularly left stranded on trains. South Africa’s well-maintained freeway system hides the dangerous, pothole-strewn secondary road grid, for which there is no money to keep up.

Even South Africa’s world-class mining industry is collapsing. Once the world’s biggest gold producer by far, 20 years later, it is now fifth on the list and falling. International investors don’t want to build mines in a country that constantly talks about taking them away from “rich whites” to give to blacks.

Meanwhile, as the population has skyrocketed, agricultural production has stagnated, and is now slightly beneath 1980s levels.

For growing numbers of South Africans, the sentiment appears to be: At least back then I had a job, it was safe, and I had food in my belly. But for others, the failure of Nelson Mandela’s “peaceful” transition to improve the life of blacks is just proof that South Africa hasn’t gone far enough. They say it is time for blacks to turn up the heat and take full control of the country.

Popular political hatemongers like former anc youth leader Julius Malema are attracting large numbers of followers on his party platform of seizing the land and driving all whites out of South Africa.

Frog in a Pot

You know the story of the frog in the boiling pot? It is a useful metaphor for people in South Africa today. They live in a country gone mad. Already the water is simmering, but the danger does not register. Those on the outside yell, “Jump out! Do you want to die?” But from inside the pot, the insane seems like normal, everyday life.

But this is not normal! Murder, rape, torture, a totally corrupt police force—is not normal. Living a life of fear is not normal.

Wake up, South Africa. The water is starting to boil.

The whites in the Cape cities may feel relatively secure—for now. The cosmopolitan papers, unwilling to upset the Cape Towners at their breakfast, will keep on with the Springboks and the cricket matches.

But be warned, Cape Town, George, Port Elizabeth: The genocide, the self-destruction, won’t stop with just the white farmers or the black slums. What is happening in the rest of the country will eventually come to you.

“So what are your plans now?” I asked the woman from South Africa.

“We have moved to Sydney, Australia.”

My friend got out of the pot. I cry for the South Africans who can’t—or won’t.

Where Is the Pot of Gold?

South Africa is a nation in desperate need of solutions. Its people followed the rainbow revolution and, instead of finding a pot of treasure, they found themselves sitting in a pot filled with simmering water.

Taking power from the white man, as it turned out, did not automatically result in utopia. Passing laws forbidding companies from hiring whites did not solve black unemployment. Legislating higher minimum wages did not make people wealthier. Forcing companies to become black-owned did not magically create a better, fairer economy. Promising free houses to the masses did not fix homelessness. More welfare, it turned out, led to more single parenthood, more fatherless families and more poverty. Requiring schools to hire black teachers first, regardless of qualifications, did not improve the quality of education. Mandating black police forces did not reduce crime. Black law enforcement did not decrease exploitation. In many cases, the new laws have made things worse.

If only solving problems was as easy as passing more laws.

This is a big lesson from South Africa that must be learned. From the Cape to Cairo, Africa is a continent that very visibly illustrates that mankind simply cannot solve its problems. As the Isaiah 59:8 prophesies, “The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace.” Proverbs 14:12 tells us, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

The results of these policies—the failure of these supposed “solutions”—is plainly evident, if only man will acknowledge it.

Why is that so often the case? Why do our best efforts to reduce suffering and improve our lot result in problems even worse than those we purported to solve? There is a cause for every effect.

The Apostle James asked, “From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain” (James 4:2-3).

What James is talking about is human nature. Why do people steal, murder, commit adultery or fornication, covet what is not theirs? Human nature. Mankind is naturally vain, lustful and greedy toward self. It is jealous, envious, hostile and resentful of authority of others. As the Prophet Jeremiah wrote: “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

Here is a fundamental truth well illustrated by the crisis in South Africa: It is impossible to have utopia on Earth until human nature is changed. Until then, societies, regardless of continent, will degrade and slump towards the ugly, the violent and the base.

A Lesson for Outsiders

Those of us who live outside of South Africa might think, Wow, I sure am glad I don’t live there. But take a deep breath and consider.

The rest of the English-speaking, “advanced” world is not so different. Human nature is the same. And, though on a smaller or less severe scale, many of these nations are experiencing decay and pursuing policies cut from the same cloth as those that are bringing South Africa down. Welfare systems may have more money to redistribute, but they promote the same family breakdown. Affirmative action laws and racial quotas make companies more diverse, but not more efficient or productive. Spending money to build fancier schools, to give each student an iPad and to stuff unionized teachers retirement plans has not reversed the decline in education.

According to biblical prophecy, what is happening in South Africa right now is actually a precursor of what is coming on the whole world. Sydney, Wellington, Toronto, London and New York might seem relatively safe—but, if you believe your Bible, you know that none of them will be able to provide refuge for long.

This world is heading into a period that Jesus Christ called “great tribulation.” It is a time of unparalleled suffering, greater than any in human history. Matthew 24:21-22 says it will be so bad that unless the days were cut short, the human race would wipe itself out!

The Prophet Jeremiah describes this horrible time period (Jeremiah 30), and he identifies the nations primarily affected. The great tribulation, though it will progressively engulf the whole world, is coming primarily on those nations whom God caused to be named after Jacob—specifically the nations descended from his grandchildren Manasseh and Ephraim. Those are the United States and British peoples of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and much of the white population of South Africa. (Request our free book The United States and Britain in Prophecy for proof.)

What South Africa is living today, the rest of the world will be living tomorrow!

In the short term, however, God will provide a way of escape from the coming tribulation for His people. You can be protected from what is about to befall this Earth—if you obey Him.

Beyond that, the good news is that there really is a rainbow with a pot of gold at the end. The great tribulation, horrific as it will be, represents the storm before the calm. It occurs just prior to the greatest event in human history: Jesus Christ’s Second Coming. When the King of kings returns, He will set about eliminating human nature. Then He will establish a real utopia—a kingdom that will solve this world’s problems once and for all, providing freedom, abundance, prosperity, security, happiness and justice for people of every nation and race!