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South African whites 'don't fear post-Mandela era'

© Charlotte Boitiaux - Donavan and his two daughters

Text by Charlotte BOITIAUX

Latest update : 2013-06-27

Residents of an upmarket - and predominantly white - Pretoria suburb tell FRANCE 24 that Nelson Mandela was an “inspiration” whose legacy will be a peaceful future for all South Africa.

Sinoville, in the leafy suburb of Montana in north Pretoria, South Africa, is the very image of calm. Only the dogs, who bark loudly whenever anyone gets close to the homes, interrupts the pervading quiet of this up-market residential neighbourhood.

Every house has an alarm system, metal grills over doors and windows, as well as the ubiquitous guard dogs. But no one here accepts that these precautions are either over-the top or a result of paranoia.

“I know there are rumours going round that we are afraid, that we fear the post-Mandela era,” said 49-year-old businessman Donovan (pictured). “But that’s not true, and no one here has got a bad word to say about him. Mandela is an icon, he’s a source of inspiration for us whites.”

Mandela is considered “an untouchable icon” by Donavan and his neighbour Tonie, a 19-year-old student.

“He’s been a real inspiration for us whites,” said Tonie as he waited for his black gardener to open his garage gates. “Mandela taught us that all people are equal and he acted in a non-violent way.”

No ill will

Across the road Hennie and Debbie Roets share the same feeling. The couple, who are in their 50s and have lived in Sinoville for three years, believe that Mandela’s greatest legacy is that he saved South Africa from civil war.

“Mandela is a great man, we all respect him. We are alive thanks to him, and no one has wanted to take their revenge on us,” said Debbie, surrounded by her four labradors. “No one has ever threatened us because we are white. I owe him my happy and peaceful life.”

“And you won’t find a single white person here who doesn’t admire him. The same goes for the blacks,” she added with a smile as her black cook passed through the couple’s sitting room.

They all denied that South Africa’s white population bore the former leader any ill-will.

“Just because we’re not out in the streets singing and praying, it doesn’t mean we don’t respect him,” said Tonie. “It’s just our culture and tradition. I’d rather pray for him before I go to bed than stay up all night in front of the hospital singing. There’s no disrespect in that.”

For Donavan, Nelson Mandela’s biggest legacy will be of peace.

“Undoubtedly, when he’s gone, things are going to be different,” he said. “Maybe some of the more aggressive members of the [ruling] African National Congress will try to increase its grip on power.

“But whatever happens, I believe in my country. We are together. Nothing will make South Africa descend into violence again.”

Date created : 2013-06-26


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