Published Date: 03 September 2009
By Fred Bridgland in Johannesburg – News.Scotsman.com
A DECISION by Canada to grant asylum to a white South African because of his physical and economic persecution by blacks has provoked a furious response from the ANC government.
The ruling African National Congress, which came to power more than 15 years ago after three centuries of whites-only rule, said the Canadian decision in favour of 31-year-old Brandon Huntley was itself racist.
Mr Huntley, who fled to Canada from Cape Town four months ago, told immigration officials he had been attacked seven times by black South Africans who denounced him as a “white dog” and “a settler”.
He said his skin colour would put his life in danger if he returned home.
In a judgment that has shaken Canadian-South African relations, Canada’s autonomous Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) ruled that Huntley’s “fear of persecution by African South Africans” is justified.
IRB chairman William Davis said Mr Huntley – who argued that South Africa’s contentious affirmative action policies, which discriminate against whites, thus putting him at further disadvantage – had provided “clear and convincing” proof of the state’s “inability of unwillingness to protect him”.
But ANC spokesman Brian Sokutu said: “We find the claim by Huntley to have been attacked seven times by Africans due to his skin colour without any police intervention sensational and alarming. Canada’s reasoning for granting Huntley a refugee status can only serve to perpetuate racism.”
With a rape every 23 seconds and more than 50 murders a day, South Africa has a violent crime record that is second only to that of Colombia’s. However, the ANC denies that the violence – which last month saw 12 attacks by heavily armed gangs on shopping malls in Johannesburg alone – is racially motivated and argues with justification that blacks are just as much victims as whites and other minorities.
However, the ruling has struck a chord with many whites, who say the government has done nothing to stop a wave of attacks on white farmers that has seen over 3,000 farmers and family members killed since 1994 – some 160 times the number of the more heavily publicised deaths of white farmers in neighbouring Zimbabwe.
They also accuse the ANC government of holding back recent crime statistics in the hope of improving the country’s image ahead of the 2010 soccer World Cup.
The most controversial ANC government policy is contained in its Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) legislation, designed to help level the playing field following decades of apartheid legislation that denied blacks the vote and access to decent education and senior business and government jobs.
Proponents of BEE argue that its radical rules discriminating against whites will be necessary indefinitely. Critics say its bewilderingly complicated rules – requiring companies to win points in myriad ways to qualify for government contracts – deter foreign investment and have created a small black billionaire parasite class while leaving the majority of black South Africans as poverty-stricken as they were under apartheid.
Brandon Huntley, who was not yet 16 when apartheid ended, said he had told it “like it is”. He had found it difficult to find work because he is white.
“I’ve opened people’s eyes,” he added.
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