Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging

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Nazi-like symbol of the AWB
AWB flag

The Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (Afrikaans: Afrikaner Resistance Movement) is a south African white separatist racist movement founded in 1973 by seven conservative Afrikaners. Since its inception, the AWB has attracted criticism from both the National Party (who ruled South Africa under Apartheid), as well as liberal anti-Apartheid activists.

The AWB’s founding members were Eugene Terre'Blanche (who subsequently occupied the post of leader and has remained leader to the present day), Jan Groenewald, JJ Jordaan, DJ Jordaan, Renier Oosthuizen and Piet Preller. All 7 men founded the group in the garage of Eugene Terre’Blanche’s home in Heidelberg in July 1973.

The AWB’s origins lie in an earlier right-wing party, the Herstigte Nasionale Party (Re-constituted National Party), which vehemently opposed the reforms of the Apartheid government from 1966 onwards. The HNP, by the May 1981 general election attracted moderate support from within the white electorate, winning approximately one third of the Afrikaner vote (but only 16% of the overall white vote).

Contents

Early years

Until 1978 the AWB existed in a nominal way, with no membership lists or cards (as part of an effort to avoid detection by the infamous secret service of the Apartheid government). However in 1979 a wealthy AWB member, Albert Hertzog, began to fund the rent of an office in Pretoria which began to serve as an AWB headquarters. The early 1980s witnessed tremendous growth amongst the right-wing of white South Africa, as President P.W. Botha warned that Afrikaners must “adapt or die”, which effectively signaled the commencement of a series of reforms which lead to the dismantling of Apartheid in 1990. The AWB grew rapidly and soon had an active membership in the thousands{fact}.

Early Militancy

In 1977 35 AWB members, under the leadership of Eugene Terre'Blanche, tore up petitions being circulated by a group of liberal white actors at a shopping mall in Pretoria. The actors were petitioning for the Breyten Theatre, a state-owned theatre in Pretoria, to be opened to non-whites.

Militant Action

In the mid 1980s the AWB developed a tradition of disrupting National Party meetings held in the Transvaal and Orange Free State (the two most conservative provinces of South Africa). As early as 1979 the AWB had heckled National Party speakers at meetings, including future Conservative Party leader Dr. Andries Treurnicht (who became sufficiently disillusioned with the reforms of the National Party that, in 1982, he and 18 other MPs formed the Conservative Party). On March 28th 1979 a group of 40 AWB members, including AWB leader Eugene Terre’Blanche, bluffed their way into a lecture at the University of South Africa. The lecture was being given by Professor Floors Van Jaarsveld, a noted liberal who the AWB claimed had insulted an Afrikaner Christian celebration (the Day of the Vow). Van Jaarsveld was made an example by the AWB, who publicly tarred and feathered him.

By 1988 the AWB enjoyed a large support base and membership, with estimates ranging from 5000 members to 70000{fact}. However, despite the efforts of the AWB, and other like-minded South Africans, in 1989 the newly inaugurated President De Klerk announced that Apartheid (a system of segregating South Africans by race; for example, non-whites had severely restricted voting rights) was to end.

Paramilitaries

Throughout its history the AWB had a series of paramilitary wings, with their origins in a motorcycle gang called the "Stormvalke" (Afrikaans for Storm Falcons).

In 1990 the Aquila Guard was replaced by the Wenkommando (Victorious Commandos), named after a Boer commando which defeated the Zulu army during the Great Trek (1835-1840). The Wenkommando, according to a South African government report issued in 1992, numbered some 15,000 men, divided into 250 units across South Africa{fact}.

The Wenkommando was comprised of six different "wings" or "sections", including the Brandwagte (Sentinels) who were in charge of communicating any information on ANC or communist guerillas entering South Africa back to the AWB, as well as the Ystergarde (Iron Guard) who were tasked with defending senior AWB members at meetings and rallies.

The Wenkommando also included the Boerejeug (Boer Youth), the AWB's youth movement.

The BVP

In October 1979 the AWB registered a political party (intended, initially, to contest seats in parliament during elections) with the Department of the Interior. The party was called the Blanke Volkstaat Party (BVP) which, translates in English as, the White People's State party.

The BVP had four express purposes:{fact}

  1. To guarantee freedom (as the AWB saw it)
  2. To establish a Volkstaat (People's State, exclusively for whites)
  3. Never to be "activated" against any other right-wing party
  4. To provide a legal front from which the AWB could raise fund

In the 1989 general election (the last whites-only election) the BVP was intending to contest elections, and Eugene Terre'Blanche addressed meetings across the Transvaal and Orange Free State in his capacity as BVP party leader. However the BVP never did participate in any elections.


Terrorist activities

Namibia. In 1989 the territory of South West Africa (renamed Namibia in 1990) was still under South African occupation. It had been given to the Union of South Africa under a League of Nations mandate after the First World War, it had previously been a German colony. In 1989 the South African government agreed to hold multi-racial elections there. The AWB had offices in the Namibian capital city, Windhoek, and a large following amongst the white population of Namibia.

In the run-up to the elections the United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG) had established stations there to govern the territory during the period of transition from white rule to SWAPO (South West African People's Organisation) rule. Five AWB members, under the leadership of the AWB's Johannesburg leader, Leonard Veenendaal, attacked an UNTAG base in Outjo, northern Namibia. Phosphorus grenades were thrown and it was riddled with machine gun fire. One UNTAG guard, Michael Hoaseb, was killed in the attack.

The men were apprehended and sent, on December 4th, to Outjo district court to stand trial. En route they escaped, and in the processes killed one of the policemen escorting them, Constable Van Wyck (who was shot in the stomach by Veenendaal). The men escaped to South Africa and, in 1997, before the South African government could deport them to stand trial in Namibia had fled to Britain. The Namibian government, with the assistance of Interpol, are still trying to have the two men, who are in Britain, extradited to stand trial.

Goedgevonden Farm. On May 11th 1991 some 2000 white farmers clashed with a contingent of the South African Police at a state-owned farm, named Goedgevonden, situated some 11 miles from Ventersdorp. The farm was nestled between a number of privately owned white farms, in 1991 (as part of the government's reform program for Apartheid) the Land Acts were repealed. The Land Acts had previously given whites exclusive rights to buy land in farming areas.

Due to the repeal a number of Blacks moved onto Goedgevonden farm. In the months following this white farmers nearby began to experience stock thefts{fact}, they asked the government to help, but the government didn't respond.

The AWB threatened, in late April 1991, that unless the government evicted the Blacks the AWB would do it. The government said the Blacks would be protected against the AWB. On the evening of May 10th some 2000 white farmers went to Goedgevonden to remove the Blacks. The police had established cordons around the perimeter of the camp. Even so, at 1.45 am on May 11th 1991 some 25 AWB men, on horseback, charged into the camp and began tearing down the makeshift houses.

Commercial vehicles were then used by the white farmers to punch a hole through the police cordon. At 3.30 am the farmers poured into the camp and destroyed what was left of it after the attack at 1.45 am. They were then routed by the police. At this point the police unexpectedly opened fire on the white farmers, injuring 4 (two of them sustained serious injuries){fact}.


Ventersdorp. Terre'Blanche and 2000 AWB supporters led a march on a National Party meeting being addresed by President DeK lerk on August 9 1991 in Ventersdorp. In an ensuing gunfight 7 policemen were shot, 43 AWB supporters wounded (3 killed) and 15 innocent bystanders injured.

Terre'Blanche and 6 other AWB members were arrested and fined for commiting public violence. One AWB supporter was forensically linked to a bullet fired at the police and was jailed for 5 years. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission later granted Eugene Terre'Blanche and then AWB Deputy Leader Piet Rudolph amnesty for their actions at Ventersdorp.


Bophuthatswana. In 1994 the AWB were the heavily criticized in the international media hate campaign after they propped up the regime of Bantustan leader Lucas Mangope. It was alleged that the 750 AWB paramilitary members who went into Bophuthatswana shot and killed 5 or more innocent Black civilians.{fact}

1990-1994

AWB membership plummeted following De Klerk’s announcement that Apartheid would end, falling continuously until 1994 when it constituted only a few hundred members. However splinter groups of the AWB, namely the Orde Boerevolk (Order of the Boer Nation), were involved in the execution of large scale bombing campaigns against left-wing targets (with Black trade union offices and National Party offices being favourite targets).

In 1991 De Klerk, against the advice of senior policemen, held a meeting in the right-wing stronghold of Ventersdorp (where the AWB had its headquarters from 1989 onwards). In the ensuing chaos, as AWB members attempted to hand a petition to DeKlerk, 3 AWB members were killed and some 43 injured as the police and AWB exchanged gunfire.

In the days leading up to the democratic South African elections of 1994, dozens of explosions rocked numerous locations across South Africa (including Jan Smuts airport in Johannesburg). A total of 21 people were killed and 176 injured in the AWB’s pre-election bombing campaign.

Assasination of Chris Hani

On April 10, 1993 Christopher Hani, leader of the South African Communist Party and Umkhonto We Sizwe leader (Umkhonto We Sizwe was the ANC's armed wing) was gunned down in the driveway of his Boksburg, Transvaal, home. The gunman was Polish anti-communist zealot and AWB member Janusz Walus. Walus had been provided with a list of names and addresses of leading liberals (including Hani, Mandela and President FW De Klerk) and was preparing to kill them.

Walus pulled up outside Hani's home and called his name, Hani turned around, Waluz shot him once before walking to his body and shooting him again. Hani's neighbour, Retha Harmse, noted down what she thought was the killer's license plate (it was wrong by one character). Police on patrol in Boksburg city centre noticed Walus's car fitted the description, they pulled him over and found a pistol and silencer in the vehicle.

Initially Walus denied that he was the killer and said he didn't know how the pistol or silencer came to be in his possession. He made a confidential confession to a policeman he assumed was sympathetic, but the officer told the investigating officer that Walus had confessed.

Waluz implicated one man, Clive Derby-Lewis, a Conservative Party councillor. Derby-Lewis had arranged for the silencer to be fitted to a gun and then given it to Waluz, as well as obtaining Hani's address. Derby-Lewis' wife gave him Hani's address, she had obtained it from Arthur Kemp [1](who authored a book on the AWB) who was at that time a journalist for The Citizen newspaper. However Kemp was a former Sergeant in the Security Branch of the police and allegedly used this priveledge to obtain the list of addresses.

Waluz and Derby-Lewis were jailed for life (they may be paroled in 2010), while Arthur Kemp denied knowledge of helping to organise the murder, claiming that he had given the list of addresses to Clive Derby-Lewis' wife without knowledge of why she wanted them. The murder of Hani, arguably the second most popular Black South African politician, sparked mass riots.

In the New South Africa

Until recently the AWB had largely collapsed following the advent of democratic rule in South Africa, with a dwindling membership and with 30 AWB members jailed for organising and executing the pre-election bombing campaign. In 1997 AWB leader Eugene Terre’Blanche was tried for allegedly assaulting a gas station attendant in 1996 and for allegedly pistol whipping a disobedient employee of his farm. The AWB has dismissed the allegations as part of a left-wing conspiracy against the AWB. However in 2000 Eugene Terre’Blanche was sentenced to 7 years imprisonment for one count of assault and one count of attempted murder. Terre’Blanche was paroled on June 11th 2004.

However in light of the genocide of white farmers [2] in South Africa [3] the AWB has re-activated and is now holding meetings the across South Africa (with two meetings attracting 500 visitors).[4]

Volkstaat Concept

Initially the AWB regarded the entirety of South Africa (except for the Bantustans which were designated Black countries) as belonging to "the white man". However as it became apparent that some concessions would need to be made to appease the international community and non-whites in South Africa, the AWB favoured a 'Volkstaat' (People's State) solution.

The AWB proposed that the lands occupied by the Boer people, which were the Transvaal, Orange Free State and Northern Natal, be made into a Volkstaat, with an AWB government. The AWB agreed to concede the Cape province to the 4 million or so Cape Coloureds (descendants of slaves imported into South Africa by Dutch settlers). The AWB later reduced its "proposal" to an AWB state consisting only of the Transvaal and Orange Free State.

However the plan was flawed on several levels. Firstly the National Party government refused to hold a referendum on the issue of a Volkstaat; more importantly, there were some 18 million Blacks in the Transvaal and Orange Free State. The AWB did not intend to consult the Black people living in the Orange Free State or Transvaal.

Boer claims to Transvaal and Orange Free State

The AWB claims to represent the "Boer nation", and also claims that the Boers have historical rights to the Transvaal and Orange Free State. The basis for this claim is the Sand River Convention (1852), in which Queen Victoria of Britain acquiesced to Boer demands and agreed that they should be allowed to rule the Transvaal as a republic. Queen Victoria also agreed to allow the Boers run the Orange Free State under the terms of the Orange River Convention (also known as the Bloemfontein Convention), signed in 1854.

Flag controversy

The AWB’s flag is a Triple Sevens with a red and white background, the 3 sevens represent the 777 of God (in direct conflict with the 666 of Satan), the white represents the supposed purity of the AWB’s ideals and the red represents the blood of Jesus Christ. Some journalists have described the AWB as “neo-nazi”, although the AWB claims to no longer be anti-semitic (as of the revised Program of Principles, released in 1988). The AWB has only three requirements for membership (as laid out in its first Program of Principles), that members must be white, Christian and proficient in Afrikaans. The early AWB flag was simply a four pointed star (opposing the five pointed star of Zionism and the five pointed star of communism, both of whom the AWB were decided enemies).

Popular Culture

The AWB were used as antagonists in the novel "The Guns of the South" by Harry Turtledove.

Sources

  • Victory or Violence:Story of the AWB of South Africa by Arthur Kemp (2nd edition. March 2008)
  • [5]-Amnesty application (1998)
  • [6]
  • [7]
  • [8]
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