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Op-Ed: S.Africa's horrific rage blogs often tell the truth

By Adriana Stuijt     Jan 1, 2009 in Lifestyle
Today, the South African Press Association displays a long list of violence-driven crimes carried out over this past holiday season. Yet the SA police continue to claim that it had been 'quiet'.
It's very difficult for journalists to reconcile the reports they get from local officials, with the facts they often see occurring in front of their own eyes. However, help is at hand: there's a growing number of rage-blogs which really tell you what is going on - if you have the stomach to brave the verbal and visual assaults they present on their pages.
Examples of conflicting news headlines on January 1 2009:
See: Crime wave hits Limpopo: here Decapicated woman found: here and then there's this one: ' Police says it was quiet in Hillbrow": here
The rage-blogs often publish important events not published in the main-stream news media. They range from extremist-white-racist-fascism to the extremely angry language in which township residents express their violent anti-government sentiments. All have one thing in common: they are always so visually and verbally graphic that they make your stomach turn over.
However, what these South African rage-blogs all have in common is that they often also report horrific local crimes and frequently highlight a host of sociological and health problems whch are being swept under the carpet by South African authorities - such as the lack of antiretroviral treatments, the previous government's denial of the existence of the AIDS-epidemic, the country's horrific air- and water-pollution, the dropping level of engineering skills, the fact that there's not enough nuclear scientists around any more to mananage their nuclear industry...
These rage-blogs frequently carry their news in a flippant tone with a very specific South African brand of humour - as if they want to shield their own minds from the horrors they are so driven to write about. Most of the bloggers are not trained journalists, and thus write about these events they experience in their own words, often with the facts intermingled with their own opinions and frequent outbursts of helpless anger.
Inevitably, on many of these sites there also is a no-holds-barred public debate, with frequent comparisons between the way South Africa 's infrastructure was managed by white officials during apartheid - and how things are now, for everybody: see
One should not ignore such rage-blogs just because of their horrific content however, because many have over the years, also had a very positive influence on the way South African society is run.
Probably the finest examples of these former rage-blogs can be found in the ongoing battle South Africans have to obtain treatment for the out-of-control AIDS-epidemic. One of the first was launched by top journalist Charlene Smith - who launched her rage-blog after she was raped and stabbed in her home in 1999 and decided to go public, describing the difficulties she had to obtain antiretroviral treatment for herself to prevent infection with the HI-virus from her rapist. She has since become an internationally recognised expert on sexual violence and post-exposure prophylaxis.
Her first website was very demure , especially when compared to current rage-blogs. However she still outraged president Thabo Mbeki with her outspoken views, who even attacked her in a personal speech in parliament. Her blog showed her deep anger, see and this one demure little website also has had a powerful influence on another campaign - the Treatment Action Campaign, which also was launched by two other rage-bloggers.
Charlene Smith's website has thus far managed to obtain free anti-retrovirals for rape survivors in South Africa, Namibia and the USA; influenced changes in the guidelines issued by the Center for Disease Control in the USA; it has influenced the development of the Bristol Meyer Secure the Future programme around sexual violence and HIV in five southern African countries. see
And when a Cape Town woman, Gail Johnson, adopted a little HIV+ boy called Nkosi Johnson and put him on an antiretroviral course in direct opposition of the dictates of Pres Thabo Mbeki himself, Gail also launched her own rage-blog when attempts were made through the law-courts to force her to give up Nkosi, who was black, on the grounds that a white South African woman should not raise a traditional African child.
Nkosi turned out to be a gifted public speaker at an AIDS-conference in Durban-- where he stood up and asked president Mbeki, who was the main speaker, why children like him should have to die of AIDS because he was denying them access to antiretrovirals. This bright little boy died on June 1, 2001, up to that point, he had survived the longest with ARV-treatment in South Africa. He won the hearts of millions of people when his speech, which was not well-received by Mbeki, was televised worldwide.
Then 11, he had written the speech himself. After his death, Gail Johnson founded Nkosi's Haven in his honour and in memory of his biological mother who was unable to look after him. Today Nkosi's Haven has expanded to include projects which provide People with Aids with care and employment at Nkosi's Haven Village, which accommodates 100 moms and 183 children.
Read Nkosi's speech entire here:
Two other rage-bloggers, the young Capetonians Zackie Achmat and Dalli Weyers see also launched a rage-blog about Mbeki's stubborn denial of ARV-treatment.
This attracted so many followers that it blossomed into the Treatment Action Campaign, launched on 10 December 1998. The TAC has been very effective in obtaining antiretroviral treatment and have already saved many hundreds of thousands of lives. They forced the Mbeki-cabinet through various hard-hitting law suits and international pressure to initiate many life-saving interventions, including the implementation of country-wide mother-to-child transmission prevention and antiretroviral treatment programmes. They now have more than 16,000 members.
These rage-blogs thus clearly serve a very specific purpose -- however horrid and decidedly racist their contents may be to outsiders. Journalists in South Africa do follow up these rage-blogs' contents more and more as the government officials start withholding important information, especially about crime and health matters. I personally also find that many of these rage-bloggers turn out to be completely accurate when checking their underlying stories out with local authorities and other trusted sources.
People of all races in South Africa are feeling increasingly betrayed by their leaders, and their rage is expressed in many ways. These blogs are just one example.
Rage-blogs are popping up constantly on the SA web - and are just as quickly hacked away again by SA authorities, because of their frequently bitterly racist, often anti-American, fascist and gruesome, graphic contents. Inevitably, their determined authors replace them within minutes with a slightly different name. They clearly are determined to publish the often gruesome and criminal events which the local news media no longer is publishing. see and see and here
You don't have to be insane in South Africa - but it helps...
The main theme of all these rage-blogs is that 'you don't have to be insane to live in South Africa, but it helps...'
The contents are flippant, always racist, and with a unique brand of South African humour which makes fun of even the most horrific incidents.
This secret war to get the truth about South Africa's horrific crime epidemic published - even on these very gruesome websites -- has been raging on the South African internet for at least five years now.
These are posted mainly by local citizens, irate enough at the government's mishandling of important health-issues such as public housing, sanitation problems and road resurfacing to start up rage-blogs.
However it also includes students at major universities and independent journalists, posting their videos on specific subjects on the internet, such as the video posted above.
The rage-blog, Death of Johannesburg, often with 'before' and 'after' pictures, is particularly striking to illustrate South Africa's steady descent from a first-world, well-run economic powerhouse to a third-world, filthy, disease-ridden and nearly destitute society: see:
And the issue of chemical waste dumping in black townships is also raised see:
One horrific example of one of the most attacked rage-blocks around - but be forewarned, this rage-blog is gross and should only be accessed by very wel-balanced, mature people: see
These blogs proliferate mainly because the South African news media simply aren't getting the crime-information from the government any more. When one peruses the crime reports on the SA Press Association's website -- which cannot ever be described as a 'rage-blog' -- it's easy to see that the past holiday season has indeed been a very violent one. Sometimes rage-bloggers who blame specific segments of the population for their woes, also regurgitate their vile hate-speech on such sites. One Cape Town man started a rage-blog which stated that it 'sometimes genocide is a good thing, when it exterminates all Afrikaners,' causing formal charges to be lodged against him at the SA Human Rights Commission.
Just one day's sampling shows that that two elderly men and a teenager were murdered in the Eastern Cape, that there was a 'wave of crime in Limpopo provice' over the past 24 hours, in Pretoria and Vereeniging, men were found stabbed to death; a female employee lodged rape charges against two shop owners in Cullinan; another woman was raped in her shack in the township of Coranna. It's a never-ending list of horrors.
Yet the SA police claimed it was 'quiet' atyesterday's celebrations in the infamous Johannesburg highrise complex of Hillbrow, in which the annual New Year's celebrations have been turned into a violent battle between the local cops and the tens of thousands of illegal dwellers in the once-so-pristine highrise buildings, There were two conflicting headlines today, namely "Hillbrow quiet on New Year's' and "Hillbrow revellers throw bottles, bricks from buildings...'
It's very difficult to tease out the exact facts from the official South African crime reports and the crime statistics by the SA Police Service aren't any help either: they only publish them six months after the fact.
Often, even the most horrific crimes are not even reported by the police to local crime-journalists - usually for fear of injuring the tourist industry, which is hoping for a huge boost from next year's 2010 World Cup football tournaments.
And the facts about the ongoing, deeply mysterious murders by huge youth-gangs of South Africa's commercial farmers, during which they are often extensively tortured before they are killed, and during which hardly anything of value is ever stolen, all have to teased out from 'ordinary crime' reports, even though they are e clearly genocidal in nature and should be reported by the police in a different crime category.
I have learned not to dismiss the contents of these rage-blogs. When such described events are followed up with phone calls to the local police stations concerned, these often highly emotional and angry postings often turn out to be entirely accurate. Rage-blogs thus can form a basic start from which crime-stories can be verified which normally are not reported or grossly underreported by the SA police service's spindoctors.
Often, these bloggers also post their own pictures, highlighting for instance, the incredible water-pollution at the Durban waterfront and the dangerous crime situation especially for white visitors to the Durban waterfront- which is one of the most popular tourist spots in South Africa. See
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Nkosi johnson, Gail johnson, Charlene smith, Treatment action campaign, Rage blogs south
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