BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in: World: Africa
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Monday, 27 August, 2001, 17:11 GMT 18:11 UK
South Africa's struggle with racism
The torch of tolerance burns in Pretoria
South Africans hope to keep the flame of tolerance blazing
By Barnaby Phillips in George, Western Cape

Wanda Stofburg's butcher's is just an ordinary shop in a small town in South Africa. A place where black and white work together.

But if she thought she was living in a peaceful multi-racial community, she's had to think again.

I will never abandon her, I will always come here. In fact our relationship is strengthened because of what has happened

black customer
Some white people apparently felt she was bringing too many black customers into the neighbourhood.

Four weeks ago Wanda Stofburg was attacked outside her house.

"He put his hand down while he was hitting me in my face, in my eyes and my lip and my mouth and swearing at me and telling me there's no place for a kaffir lover like me in George," she said.

And then he used a sharp instrument to carve a "K" onto her chest. "K" denoting an abusive term for black people. Her body, marked with his hatred.

Black-white divide

Wanda is now frightened. Since then she has received hate mail and her walls have been daubed with graffiti. Her black customers are rallying round.

One of them, Sindy, said: "I will never abandon her, I will always come here, in fact our relationship is strengthened because of what has happened".

On the streets of George white people also condemn the attack, but some still prefer to keep their distance from other communities.

An old white man said: "I want to know what is wrong with being with my own people, and living with my own people in my own community. Do you understand?"

Revulsion at the attack on Wanda Stofburg has bought hundreds of people onto the streets of George.

Two-way racism

But although this is an anti-racism march, nearly every single person I can see is black.

In small towns like George South Africa's different races are still leading very separate lives.

"It is even getting worse, its escalating," one of the marchers said.

There are also blacks who are also racist - we cannot run away from that as well

Reverend Ngesi
"We are really suffering under racism, here in the southern Cape, we as non-whites, this is the only way we can show whites we don't agree with the way they are treating our people," another added.

But the past few years have also seen tensions within the black population, as resentment grows over an influx of immigrants from the rest of the continent.

Reverend Nkosinathi Ngesi, who helped to organise the march, said: "It is not directed particularly against whites."

"There are also blacks who are also racist - we cannot run away from that as well. So we are addressing the two sides of the story here."

Apartheid isolated all South Africans, it allowed and encouraged racist beliefs to harden over decades.

The process of changing people's minds is going to go on for years to come.

See also:

28 Aug 00 | Africa
South Africa's new racism
22 Aug 01 | Africa
South Africans urge tolerance
01 Jan 00 | Africa
Sorry, whites only
30 Jul 01 | Africa
Rows threaten racism conference
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Africa stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Africa stories