ANC, DA: BBC report on white South Africans distorts truth

The report, which appears as a video and written article on the broadcaster's website, claims only certain white South Africans have a future in the country. (Gallo)

The report, which appears as a video and written article on the broadcaster's website, claims only certain white South Africans have a future in the country. (Gallo)

The report, which appears as a video and written article on the broadcaster's website, claims only certain white South Africans have a future in the country.

"The people who are suffering now are the weakest and most vulnerable members of the white community," it reads.

"In the old days, the apartheid system looked after whites and did very little for anyone else. Nowadays white people here are on their own."

It also highlights violence and acts of crime committed against white people – particularly white farmers, suggesting government is doing little to address the issue.

"Virtually every week the press here report the murders of white farmers, though you will not hear much about it in the media outside South Africa," the report reads.

The report was conducted by the BBC's world affairs editor John Simpson, who worked in South Africa in the early 1990s during the country's transition to democracy. 

According to the broadcaster, BBC.com is "Europe's most popular content-based site" and claims that 13.2-million people in the United Kingdom visit the site's more than two-million pages each day.

'Apartheid hangover'
"South Africa has never been in a situation where whites have been singled out and persecuted," said ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza.

"Instances of crime and poverty affect all South Africans regardless of the colour of their skin." 

Khoza also said the BBC was suffering from an "apartheid hangover".

"The BBC is living in their own world with their racist tendencies where they wish to undermine the government of South Africa because it is largely a black government." 

"This isn't just an attack on the government of South Africa and the ANC, it's an attack on South Africa as a whole." 

The Democratic Alliance too were displeased with the article.

"This is a very pessimistic post-apartheid view of South Africa. Poverty is endemic in this country and we have poor people – not poor whites and poor blacks. 

"The article and video create the impression that black people don't suffer in the new South Africa, where they most certainly do."

Misrepresentation
The article has also been questioned by media commentators who claim it could be seen as a misrepresentation of life in South Africa.

Franz Kruger, adjunct professor in journalism at the University of Witwatersrand, said white poverty is worth being reported, but not in the manner the BBC did. 

"The facts in this article speak for themselves but the way the article has been represented distorts the truth," Kruger said.

"If somebody watched this video in isolation they would get the completely wrong idea about life in South Africa." 

Former journalist and editor Max du Preez echoed Kruger's sentiment.

"John Simpson is merely highlighting the fact that the former oppressors are also vulnerable to poverty and that is unexpected for an international audience and thus why it is a story," said du Preez. 

"This piece creates the impression that white people suffer more than black people when often it's the other way around."

Nickolaus Bauer

Nickolaus Bauer

Nickolaus Bauer is the Mail & Guardian's jack of all trades news reporter that chases down stories ranging from politics and sports to big business and social justice. Armed with an iPad, SLR camera, camcorder and dictaphone, he aims to fight ignorance and pessimism through written words, photographs and videos. He believes South Africa could be the greatest country in the world if only her citizens would give her a chance to flourish instead of dwell on the negativity. When he's not begging his sub-editors for an extra twenty minutes after deadline, he's also known to dabble in the occasional poignant column that will leave you mulling around in the depths of your psyche. The quintessential workaholic, you can also catch him doing sports on the weekday breakfast show on SAfm and presenting the SAfm Sports Special over the weekend. Read more from Nickolaus Bauer

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