New Internationalist

Afrikaners hit bottom

January 2010

Photo-journalist Dean Saffron documents life in a South African squatter camp.

The Government is trying to merge Krugersdorp’s 400 white squatters into the black settlement (population 5,000) of Munsieville. Neither group favours the proposal.

It’s been nearly two decades since South African President FW de Klerk, in an act of high political drama, stunned the world by announcing the release from detention of anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela. It was a watershed moment. The revered African leader’s freedom signalled the end of the hated apartheid system. Four years later, in April 1994, when the first democratic elections were held, Mandela’s party, the African National Congress, won 63 per cent of the vote.

Apartheid was built on systematic racism. White Afrikaners – descendants of 17th century Dutch and French settlers – wielded near complete political and economic power. The black majority, 80 per cent of the population, was marginalized and brutally exploited. There was an implicit promise that all whites would be guaranteed a basic minimum standard of living. 

Fifteen years later, the ground has shifted. Afrikaners make up less than six per cent of South Africa’s population. Their political clout has declined, along with their economic security. Poverty has increased to the point that hundreds of Afrikaners are now living in squatter camps – as millions of their black neighbours have done for generations. There are more than 50 Afrikaner squatter camps in the Pretoria area, most tucked out of public view.

On average, white South Africans are still much richer than blacks. (Median income for whites is $11,000 compared with $2,000 for blacks.) But the number of Afrikaners at the very bottom of the income ladder is increasing. According to a Standard Bank of South Africa study, the number of whites earning less than $80 a month grew by more than 50 per cent from 2000 to 2004.

Australian photo-journalist Dean Saffron spoke to the residents of one of these squatter camps near Krugersdorp in the goldmining West Rand region, northwest of Johannesburg. More than 400 people have been occupying a slice of the municipal park for the past six years. The local municipal government in Mogale City wants the squatters to relocate to the neighbouring black settlement of Munsieville. But the impoverished Afrikaners refuse to budge, fearing they’ll fracture their small community and lose their few possessions. The Johannesburg High Court has temporarily backed them, barring the municipality from attempting forced removal.

The municipality cut water and electricity supplies to force residents to relocate, to no avail. Camp members huddle around the only warmth during sub-zero temperatures.

Lorraine Niemanelt and her husband headed to the Krugersdorp camp last year after he lost his job in the wake of the global financial crisis. Staying with family was not an option, as they too were struggling. Their makeshift lifestyle has hit the couple hard and they fantasize about being able to bathe and shampoo their hair.

Robert and Debbie Kruger with son Marcel. Temperatures often drop below freezing with no heating. Robert: ‘This is especially hard with a newborn baby.’

This column was published in the January 2010 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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  1. #1 Adriana Stuijt 30 Aug 10

    Starvation in Afrikaner squatter camps

    As a retired SA journalist I have been maintaining an archive of the growing poverty of the Afrikaners and the large number of armed attacks they suffer despite their poverty and lack of political power. My reports are located on

  2. #2 LEONIE 30 Aug 10


    The reason for these white peoples poverty is mostly directly linked to the mining community - who lived on their income from week to week or month to month - the income however was never realy enough to put them in a position to put money away for n rainy day - thus as soon as the jobs were reserved for blacks only - the white people lost ther jobs - as all jobs are now reserved for (incompetant) black people. These white miners could not find any jobs anywere anymore - the mine houses which they rented wilst working for the mines were now given to black people only - so to try and survive they started selling of their cars - furniture - tools - whatever they posessed to put food on the table - till there was nothing left - then they landed in the ’plakkerkampe’ and now most days without food The black people who now run the welfare never even consider these white people's aplications for welfare - chuck their applications in the rubbish bin - and this is the God's honest truth.

    A person can still handle grown-ups being hungry - but children breaks your heart - and you as a individual can do just so much and not more.

    The money that the countries donate to the ANC goverment NEVER reach the poor people - black or white.

  3. #3 Jorgen 31 Aug 10

    How to Help Poor Afrikaners in SA?

    The best way to help is to donate to South African Solidarity Helping Hand Fund.
    English site:
    Afrikaans site:

  4. #6 KimmiL 30 Sep 10

    Ahem many of the now poor whites are unqualified because during the apartheid era incompetent and undeducated Afrikaaners could still get jobs based soley on their race an culture - they complain now about not being able to jobs when it is only fair that people of other races should be able to compete with them! I have also heard that many refuse government housing because they dont want to live near people of other races and still expect the government to provide them with white only housing. Its no surprise they're not getting that

  5. #8 Lizzy 11 Aug 11

    @Kimmel. Sometimes when faced with situations you are clearly in the dark about it's best to keep quiet.

    1. Whether or not you are better qualified, better experienced than a black person next to you, you will not get the job, based on your skin color. That's a fact, kindly google it. Would you not call it racist being able to get a job based on your skin color or is that only valid the other way around?

    2. Also please google what Afrikaners murdered by black people look like. Please do. And don't shy away from the crime scene photos, have a good look. Then you please reconsider your statement about it being their own fault for not wanting to live in a black township.

    3. Failing to do all of the above and then giving a well researched, propaganda free opinion, please just keep quiet.

  6. #11 Henri 26 Sep 11

    Kimmel - Another couch commentator that don't know what he is talking about. We, and that include me, were unable to get jobs in SA due to black affirmative action. My masters degree with 15 years experience did not help much. People like Kimmel have one set of rules for one group, and another for Afrikaners. People the world over are getting fed-up with black racism, and marxism, which all entail victimhood and doublestandards. Blacks are just as capable of racism as whites, though for many decades we were made to believe it is only whites. Go to South Africa. Live there and you will discover soon enough, and the weird part is, you don't even have to be white to figure out how racist the blacks are over there...

  7. #12 The truth about Afrikaners 21 Oct 11


    5 million white people took at most 5 million jobs from 40 million people. So at most 1 out of 8 black people were affected with apartheid's labor laws. But now 40 million demand affirmative action and not the 5 million that was affected. 40 million believe they are entitled to Affirmative action when the minority of 5 million took away 5 million jobs from 40 million. That buddy, that's how it now is. 8 guys is beating up 1 guy because that 1 guy beat up 1 black guy.

  8. #13 AM 03 Jan 13

    There is a genocide going on in South Africa, targeting a specific community: the white farmer. Just a few days ago my neighbour told me that her elderly parents were attacked on the farm where they were living. The father was hacked to death with a panga, the mother was hacked in the face but miraculously survived (she passed out and fell to the ground, so the attackers thought she was dead and left her). The attackers stole R300 (that's approx 20british pounds) and an old cell phone.

    Anybody who behaves like that can legitimately be called a savage.

  9. #14 AM 03 Jan 13

    One of the reason for the increased intensity in the white genocide is that the true history of South Africa has been blotted out and lies are now being taught in history classes at schools.

    Most black South Africans do not know that the indigenous people are the bushmen, and that South Africa was colonised by blacks from north Africa and by whites from Europe. (I learnt about the true SA history on an archaeology course at university). The existing bushmen don't really have a voice in this country. Blacks are taught that whites stole their land...and that the whites are responsible for all of their poverty. Yes, people were oppressed and affected by apartheid, but not ALL of the current 50million blacks. When whites came to SA they didn't move into the black peoples villages or take their homes, they built a system which they copied from Europe. blacks want to be a part of that system....but how on earth can we suddenly squash 50million people into a system that was built for a few million? Hasn't anybody noticed the enormous population growth of the blacks in SA as opposed to other race groups? Other race groups are also being discriminated against here by the blacks. Did you know that currently there are approx 6million registered tax payers in SA, who are supporting a population of 50-60million people? Basic arithmetic: even if you take all the possessions and money of the approx 4-5million white people and give it to 50million blacks, they will still all be poor. It's just not enough! Every year millions of rands of tax payers money is unaccounted for due to fraud and corruption and supporting lavish lifestyles of the government politicians......instead of building houses and providing services for the people.....but they draw attention away from their stealing and instead they blame the white man and apartheid for black people's poverty, while most of the tax money for providing education and health and other services for them is coming from the white man's pocket.

    I apologise for talking about ’black’ and ’white’ but it just made it easier to get my point across. I do not mean to offend anyone with this comment.

  10. #15 AM 03 Jan 13

  11. #16 EXPAT TEXAS 25 Apr 13

    TWO WRONGS DO NOT MAKE A RIGHT ! I don't care what anyone says, what is going on in SA is an absolute disgrace to any cilvilised society, and, at one time South Africa was civilized when it came to government and it's leaders. Today NOT!

    BUT lets look at present day situations in America. The bombing of the twin towers known as 9/11/ in 2001. AND now the recent Boston Bombings April 2013. Plus many others, like Bengazi terrorist bomb in Sept 2012. All of which are appauling and condemed world wide. YET... NELSON MANDALAS's terrorist bombing, in SA, for which he was jailed , 27, plus other ANC terrorist attacks on South Africa prior to 1994 was not condemed by the world. Quite the contrary, it was supported by major powers bringing pressure on South Africa for his release and instating the ANC (a TERRIORIST + Communisti Regime)as the controlling government.Today we see the results this TERRIORIST gov and the suffering of the countries citizens. I'm not going to mention the fraud, corruption, theft and leaders including the president ZUMA driving their supporters and crowds into blood thirsty frenzies by singing, chanting racial hatred songs of Kill the Boer + Bring me my Guns and Machette (Pangas). That the world has even seen fit to honor their terrorist leader Mandela with NOBLE Piece Prize as well as the man who agreed to sell out the country and whites, a noble peace prize also. Disgrace! Disgrace! Disgrace!

    If you ask most any South African black or white who actually lived under apartheid rule how they feel about their country today?, the overwhelming majority have no hesitation in responding: ’It was better under apartheid’. AND, FACTS PROOVE them to be correct! Now that is something noone can deny other than those who have no consideration for anyone, anything, animal and property what-so-ever. In short, the illiterate thugs, drug dealers, murders, criminals that is the off springs of the children that refused white man's education system because Mandela, form prison,instructed them to do so!

    WHITE South Africans have NEVER been racist in their hearts or they would NEVER have agreed to simply hand over their country with a fight. WHITE SA, chose a peaceful transition unlike any other country in world history. And for you Blacks that don't know, at the time Mandela was released, South Africa had the 5th most powerful, well trained and respected army in the world. They also had 3rd most succesful nuclear plants and the worlds largest uranium mines, used to make missiles. They could easily have gained victory in a bloodbath. Afrikaaners have proven their courage, determination and successes in standing up for their father land. Biggest mistake they made was to beleive the BLACK man's word which in truth is not worth the paper it is written and no different to what happen 300 years ago in negotiations with Blacks in pioneer days.

    Look at the American Red Indians, now here is a race that has justifiable cause/reason to be racists and bear hatred. Their lands WERE stolen from them. Their wives and children were butchered. Their source of food killed. They were encamped and starved. Yet today they have their reservations, apology from the US gov and live their lives peacefully on their Red Indian reservations. They DON'T commit acts of terrorism against or genozide against white americans. Why? Because Red Indians, respect life! They respect mother nature. AND, you don't hear them crying about what they lost, or demanding the golden goose. They just want to be left alone, live according to their beliefs and get on with living. They control and govern their own indian reservations. Unlike the Black Americans, who walk about with chips on their shoulders regarding slavery that no white man living today forced them into. Infact it was BLACK man who invented Slavery and WHite man who abolished it. Read the facts. What I want to know is, why the hell black people think the world owes them something and why are 90% of all crimes committed by BLACKS, no matter the country?

    Lastly, what the hell is the difference between Terrorist Mandela and Bin Laden followers or the recent terrorist that just bombed Boston? Somebody please tell me...

  12. #17 Helene Smith 20 Feb 16

    Salaries in SA Rand, not $.

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