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Many South African white nationalist sites claim there has been white genocide in South Africa.

The following images were uploaded to Pinterest around 2015.

Warning: These images may be disturbing as they depict graphic outcomes of violence and are NSFW.

Images of injured people, with text detailing the violence and blaming young black males

We are on stage 6 out of 8 stages of genocide... the next stage is stage 7 EXTERMINATION... Extermination begins, and quickly becomes the mass killing legally called "GENOCIDE".

These sources are attributed to the now defunct Stop White Genocide in SA blog.

In 2016, Radio free South Africa (NSFW) posted an article titled "graphic photo's of farm murders in South Africa", with more disturbing photos of violence.

However, the article above says:

The government claim these attacks are normal criminals
Criminals that want to steal from the farms
you tell me if you think these images are that of normal crime

Also, when referencing official crime stats, white nationalist groups like Afriforum make huge mistakes.

Is there evidence of an existing or past systemic violent campaign against white farmers in South Africa?

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  • 8
    As I understand it, it is generally considered a genocide if enough nations agree that it is a genocide. I know at least one country that used to refer to the Armenian genocide as the "Armenian matter", carefully avoiding labeling it a genocide - so I'm afraid any answer will probably boil down to semantics.
    – Jordy
    Mar 10 at 8:14
  • 12
    @Jordy States declaring something a genocide is certainly one way to approach the claim, but not the only one. We can look at what experts (sociologists, historians, philosophers, political scientists, or genocide scholars) who studied the issue are saying. It's definitely not mere semantics, and especially in the case of "white genocide", there are plenty of reliable sources debunking the conspiracy theory.
    – tim
    Mar 10 at 10:28
  • 4
    I do think that narrowing the question down would help in getting good answers though. "Are these pictures showing real victims of crime" seems like a valid question (if notability can be established), but isn't really related to the title question (crime != genocide). A question about what stats are legitimate would be a different question, but also a valid one. Here it would help to show which stats (with a source showing notability).
    – tim
    Mar 10 at 10:29
  • 3
    I wonder what a reverse image search would come up for some of those individual pics. I want to say I recognize some of the ones in the first pic as coming from the Netherlands(?), also misused for a smear campaign in the US. Mar 10 at 22:52
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    @computercarguy I thought the same thing. The second picture, bottom left, is an actress named Marilyn Burns as seen in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
    – Aww_Geez
    Mar 11 at 3:11
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Africa Check

According to a fact checking group named “Africa Check”, there is no truth in the theory, and a white person is far less likely to be murdered than a black person.

Africa Check

“Whites are far less likely to be murdered than their black or coloured counterparts,” Lizette Lancaster, who manages the Institute for Security Studies crime and justice hub, told Africa Check. This is supported by an analysis of a national sample of 1,378 murder dockets conducted by police in 2009. In 86.9% of the cases, the victims were Africans. Whites accounted for 1.8% of the cases (although whites make up 8.85% of the population).

What Africa Check is

According to Wikipedia, Africa Check appear to be a notable and reputable fact checking organisation set up with the goal of tackling false propaganda.

Africa Check, wikipedia

Africa Check is a non-profit fact checking organisation set up in 2012 to promote accuracy in public debate and the media in Africa. The organisation's goal is to raise the quality of information available to society across the continent.

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    I appreciate the effort in this answer, but there are a couple of points I like to raise. The data used is more than 10 years old, which wouldn't prove much if this is a more recent event. And what do the numbers tell us exactly? I.e. what if whites were killed 8.86% of the cases? And finally, I understand that one of the qualifiers of genocide is intent (e.g. wanting to exterminate a certain group), so what if 95% of the homicides were hate crimes? Not being pedantic, just trying to point out that genocide classification is a very ugly hornets nest.
    – Jordy
    Mar 10 at 10:16
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    @Oddthinking I believe the "The data used is more than 10 years old" relates to "This is supported by an analysis of a national sample of 1,378 murder dockets conducted by police in 2009" (Emphasis mine). Mar 10 at 16:27
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    Can one not answer this question about genocide by simple numbers? The farmers in OPs question may be victims of anti white hate crimes but if there are only 1.8% of 1378 or 25 white murder victims in a year in total, that is far too few to qualify as genocide.
    – quarague
    Mar 10 at 18:08
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    This doesn't answer the actual question and the fact that it has any upvotes makes me despair about the ability of site users to assess evidence and statistics.
    – DrMcCleod
    Mar 11 at 11:17
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    @DrMcCleod In my experience, certain SE sites are much less objective in terms of the quality/upvote ratio. Unfortunately, judging from my past experience, this is one of them. (Politics.SE is another really bad offender.) Mar 12 at 1:18
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Not likely

What is genocide?

In the comments of both the question and the Africa Check answer, there was some discussion over the term "genocide". While it's true that there is not one scientifically agreed upon definition of the term, this is no cause for relativism. For one, there is the legal definition in the Genocide Convention adopted by the UN, which lists additional acts than just killing. More importantly, there are a number of scientific definitions, which we can work with. Notable genocide researcher Barbara Harff proposes the following definition in Harff (2003):

Genocides and politicides are the promotion, execution, and/or implied consent of sustained policies by governing elites or their agents—or, in the case of civil war either of the contending authorities—that are intended to destroy, in whole or part, a communal, political, or politicized ethnic group.

This focus on the perpetrating group being government or government-like is a reoccurring element in the definitions of multiple other genocide researchers.

Is there a post-Apartheid genocide in SA, and, if so, is it targeting white people?

I have not seen that claim, if we define "genocide" as above. If that claims exists, someone should source it and try to find data on it. I assign this possibility a very low prior probability.

Okay, so the claim is not about genocide. But is there an unusually high number of hate crimes targeting white people?

I could not find any data on hate crimes for SA. If anyone can, this would be a valuable addition to this answer.

In light of this, we might simplify it to murder statistics. I was not able to find reliable data on this more recent than the one cited by John Strachan, so it would not be useful for me to just echo what was already said on this.

A most tacit approximation of empirical evidence

So far, so disappointing, because I was not able to find evidence either way (though of course, absence of evidence is weak evidence of absence). As to at least have some evidence, I'm going to use the South Africa Police Service's crime statistic for 2017/2018. It shows that there were 20336 murders in that timespan. Of those, only 2332 were assigned a specific motive in the statistic (I order by frequency):

  1. Gang-related: 973
  2. Mob justice: 849
  3. Taxi-related: 237
  4. Illicit mining: 94
  5. Police Officials: 85
  6. Farm murders: 62
  7. Political related: 32

Somewhat naively, I assume that the category "political related" is the best fit for "hate crime", but I might be entirely wrong on that point. If this were true, however, it would mean that out of 20336 murders, only 32 were identified as hate crimes, that would make a strapping 0.157%. Now even if we were to assume (without any grounds whatsoever) that all of those hate crimes were committed by black people on white people because of their race, this would not in any way, shape or form indicate anything even close to a widespread phenomenon.

Now I need to stress again that what I just presented was based on utterly insufficient empirical data, to the point where it's probably a sin to even speak of empirical analysis, and thus should be taken with heaps upon heaps of salt.

Edit: As proposed in the comments, I'm going to assume the most favorable circumstances for the claim of unusually high numbers of hate crimes against white people based on their race: I'm going to assume that every murder that was committed falls into that category (I hope I don't need to point out how exceedingly ridiculous this notion is).

According to the statistic linked above, there were 17805 murders in 2014/2015 in South Africa. I use this period because according to wikipedia, there where 4,554,800 white people living in South Africa in 2014. If every single one of those murder victims had been a white person, this would mean that 0.391% of the white population would have been murdered that year. That would mean that out of a group of 1000 white people, a little less then 4 would have been murdered. Additionally, for the claim to be true, those not-quite 4 people would have needed to be murdered because they were white.

To contrast this with other causes of deaths, I looked at the official statistic for 2014, and this is what I found:
Causes of death with similar percentages are mental and behavioral disorders (0.4) and diseases of the musculoskeletal system (0.4). The only causes of death listed with an even lower percentage are skin disease (0.2), pregnancy and childbirth (0.2), and diseases of the eye or ear (0.0, respectively). Now unless we assume that an "organized violent campaign targeting whites" (question title) was less deadly than non-transmittable diseases that are usually considered non-lethal, and in fact only a little more deadly than skin diseases, I do not see any way to make that claim even remotely plausible enough to seriously entertain.

Conclusion

It does not seem that even far-right outlets claim a genocide according to a widespread definition of the term. If the claim is about an unusually high level of hate crimes against white people based on their race, there does not seem to be any evidence commensurate with the claim.

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    A relevant statistic might be how many "white" citizens of South Africa there are, to compare the 20336 against as an upper bound - i.e. if that number was 100% white people (unlikely), what percentage of the white population would that be?
    – IMSoP
    Mar 11 at 11:23
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    The "Mob justice" category may be relevant, if we were to consider that the alleged acts are committed by mobs of black people attacking and killing white people. That would increase the result quite a bit, but still far from qualifying for a genocide I suppose. Also, most of the acts described by the OP are actually not killings, so of course that doesn't quite fit the "-cide" part of genocide.
    – jcaron
    Mar 11 at 13:01
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    @jcaron I thought that "mob justice" had to do with organized crime, but judging from the wikipedia entry for "Mob justice in Ghana", you are completely right that this could, in theory, be a relevant category. Mar 11 at 13:23
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    why not use/include the farm murders? any reason? Given that the question explicitly includes this term, might that not be what is used in SA for murders of farmers (white farmers?)? Doesn't change the outcome obviously, but it seems this is kinda the established term for parts of this alleged phenomenon? there is even a nice Wikipedia article about the topic that pops up at the top if you use SA farm murders as search terms, so this seems to be an established term en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_African_farm_attacks Mar 11 at 21:52
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    @llama Not all sciences are the physical sciences. Using a definition that is reasonably well-accepted in the literature of some social science (e.g. sociology, political science, or whichever social sciences genocides) seems reasonable to describe as a "scientific" definition.
    – reirab
    Mar 12 at 5:45
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One of the images states:

We are on stage 6 out of 8 stages of genocide (...) the next stage is stage 7 extermination

This probably refers to the "8 stages of genocide" presented by Gregory Stanton of Genocide Watch, which were later revised to become Ten stages of genocide.

According to Wikipedia, the 10 stages are:

  1. Classification
  2. Symbolization
  3. Discrimination (new)
  4. Dehumanization
  5. Organization
  6. Polarization
  7. Preparation
  8. Persecution (new)
  9. Extermination
  10. Denial

The two "new" ones are Discrimination and Persecution, so the stage 6 of the image would refer to "Preparation" (new stage 7) and stage 7 to "Extermination" (new stage 9).

Genocide Watch track the situation in various countries, and they have ranked South Africa between stage 5 and 6 (of the previous 8-stage scale) over time:

  • Stage 5/8 (Polarization) from 2001 to 2011
  • Stage 6/8 (Preparation) from 15 September 2011
  • Back to Stage 5/8 from 2 February 2012

This seems to be mainly due to the rhetoric of controversial Julius Malema, then president of the ANC Youth League, who has for instance been singing Shoot the Boer. He's been convicted for hate speech several times, but he has at the same time kept his prominent position in the ANC (the leading party in SA) and received the support of ANC leaders and the president.

In their July 2012 evaluation, Genocide Watch state:

The African National Congress has been South Africa’s governing party since the Presidency of Nelson Mandela 17 years ago, following the end of white minority rule and apartheid. In the years under apartheid, hate speech was used by both supporters and opponents of the apartheid system to stir up their followers. When racial tensions in South Africa ran high, the song “Kill the Farmer, Shoot the Boer” was a revolutionary song of the anti-apartheid movement. However, it is an illustration of the long-term impact that such de-humanizing language can have.

After many years when such songs were no longer sung, in 2010, prominent members of the ANC Youth League, in particular Julius Malema, President of the ANC Youth League, openly sang the “Shoot the Boer” song at ANC Youth League rallies. Not only did revival of the song strike fear into the hearts of Boer farmers, but it has actually been sung during attacks on white farmers. It is an incitement to murder white Afrikaner farmers.

Over 3000 white farmers have been murdered since 1994. The South African police have not made investigation and prosecution of these farm murders a priority, dismissing them as crimes by common criminals. The government has disbanded the commando units of white farmers that once protected their farms, and has passed laws to confiscate the farmers’ weapons. Disarmament of a targeted group is one of the surest early warning signs of future genocidal killings.

A recent outbreak of violent farm invasions has led to casualties among white South Africans. The farm invasions are direct results of calls by Julius Malema and his Deputy, Ronald Lamola for whites to give up their land without compensation, or face violence by angry black youths “flooding their farms.” In response to Julius Malema, the Freedom Front (FF) cited Section 16.2c of the South African Constitution, which restricts freedom of speech rights by excluding as unprotected speech "advocacy of hatred based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion and incitement to cause harm.” The FF contended that Malema’s singing of the “Shoot the Boer” song was hate speech and therefore a human rights violation. Acting Judge of the South Gauteng High Court, Leon Halgryn declared that the song is hate speech, and it is unconstitutional to either utter or sing “dubul’ibhunu” (“shoot the Boer.”) He issued an injunction against Malema, ordering him to no longer sing the song. The phrase is now considered hate speech.

Julius Malema was shortly thereafter removed as President of the ANC Youth League, and ejected from the ANC. However, Malema’s followers have defied the judgment and continue to sing the song. Even President Jacob Zuma sang “Shoot the Boer” at the ANC Centenary Celebration event in January of 2012. He claimed that its use at the ANC Centenary was not intended as hate speech, but rather to commemorate the struggle against apartheid.

Despite President Zuma’s proclaimed intent, his singing of the song may be contributing to an increasingly hostile environment that threatens the safety of white South Africans. The number of murders of Boer farmers has increased each month in 2012.

For ten years, Genocide Watch has been the only international human rights group willing to declare an Alert about the high murder rate of Boer farmers, perhaps because it is not “politically correct” to defend the rights of people who once supported apartheid. Genocide Watch is opposed to all forms of racism, from whatever the source. The President of Genocide Watch actively supported the anti-apartheid movement in constitutional consultations with the United Democratic Front when he was a Fulbright Professor of Law in Swaziland. He has visited South Africa several times since and will soon visit again.

Genocide Watch measures South Africa at stage 5: Polarization.

There is no more recent update on the classification of SA by Genocide Watch since 2012, but their current evaluation is that the following stages are in effect:

  • Classification (stage 1)
  • Symbolization (stage 2)
  • Polarization (stage 5 in old scale, 6 in new scale)

You'll note that:

  • Even though the highest stage is 6/10, not all previous stages are observed in SA.
  • We currently (since 2012) are at stage 6/10, not stage 7/10 (Preparation), though Genocide Watch placed it at that level for a period between 2011 and 2012
  • We are definitely not either at Persecution (8/10) and much less Extermination (9/10), which would make it actual genocide.

Note also, for comparison, that the United States are classified at stages 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 10.

So:

  • Yes, there definitely are issues, and people in power or close to the power have attempted to stir violence against white farmers, and some people have followed up on this.
  • But, no, this is actually still quite far from actual genocide as this stage, though it definitely needs to be kept under surveillance.

This is probably a very classic example of how past violence and discrimination can lead to new violence and discrimination the other way around once the balance has shifted.

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    Can anyone include information on Genocide Watch as an organization? There is very little information on it on wikipedia (which does not necessarily mean anything, of course), but if they are indeed a reputable organization, then this is probably the best answer yet, as it adresses the claim more directly than the others. Mar 12 at 17:48
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    I appreciate how this answer addresses the social and cultural context around the issue. Two other things worth mentioning. 1) Many of the farm murders have involved rape and horrific torture (often both), this is the common argument against the official response that these are just common crimes. You don't torture someone if you just want to steal their car, but you might if you are committing a hate crime.
    – Cole
    Mar 13 at 1:35
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    2) An official constitutional amendment backed by the ANC is on the docket this year that would allow expropriation of land without compensation. The amendment seeks to constitutionally enable the 2017 ANC land reform policy which seeks to take farmlands from white farmers and to redistribute them to the black majority as a means of reparations. In this sense there is also governmental policy specifically targeting the minority group in question.
    – Cole
    Mar 13 at 1:43
  • Given that expropriation is part of stage 8 and this has been going on for some time it looks like stage 8 may be the current state.
    – Cole
    Mar 13 at 1:57
8

An improved answer to the one before:

Yes, there have been allegedly organized targeted attacks on white farmers.

No. It isn't genocide. As @GlenO puts it beautifully:

To be considered genocide deaths not only have to be organized and deliberate, they have to be a certain scale. Even if a few people go round deliberately targeting white farmers because of their race, if only a few are killed it is not a genocide.

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    -1 imho there are a couple of problems with your answer: 1) It consists to >50% of a (very sensible) quote, but it's not clear where the quotation comes from. 2) The sources you do use are all not reliable, but far-right blogs and low-quality tabloids. 3) It's not clear how it's related to the question. By "targeted", do you mean they were targeted for being white (which this question is about) or because they were farmers (ie targeted by criminals for material gain)?
    – tim
    Mar 11 at 8:17
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    The word "allegedly" makes this a non-answer. The question already states that these allegedly happen, so what does this answer contribute?
    – mrp
    Mar 11 at 9:38
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    The last case mentioned in this answer is discussed here by the Telegraph, where some information on the overall situation is given that I found interesting.
    – smcs
    Mar 11 at 15:09
  • I think this answer could be improved if it was framed as "Even if the alleged attacks where targeting white people it would still not amount to a genocide" which is I think the intent of this answer. Mar 11 at 21:49

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