Uit: The Moment Before the Gun Went Off
“Marais Van der Vyver shot one of his farm labourers, dead.
An accident. There are accidents with guns every day of the week: children playing a fatal game with a father’s revolver in the cities where guns are domestic objects, and hunting mishaps like this one, in the country. But these won’t be reported all over the world. Van der Vyver knows his will be. He knows that the story of the Afrikaner farmer – a regional Party leader and Commandant of the local security commando – he, shooting a black man who worked for him will fit exactly their version of South Africa. It’s made for them. They’ll be able to use it in their boycott and divestment campaigns. It’ll be another piece of evidence in their truth about the country. The papers at home will quote the story as it has appeared in the overseas press, and in the back-and-forth he and the black man will become those crudely-drawn figures on anti-apartheid banners, units in statistics of white brutality against the blacks quoted at United Nations – he, whom they will gleefully call ‘a leading member’ of the ruling Party.People in the farming community understand how he must feel. Bad enough to have killed a man, without helping the Party’s,the government’s, the country’s enemies, as well.They see the truth of that. They know, reading the Sunday papers, that when Van der Vyver is quoted saying he is ‘terribly shocked’, he will ‘look after the wife and children’, none of those Americans and English, and none of those people at home who want to destroy the white man’s power will believe him. And how they will sneer when he even says of the farm boy (according to one paper, if you can trust any of those reporters), ‘He was my friend. I always took him hunting with me: Those city and overseas people don’t know it’s true: farmers usually have one particular black boy they like to take along with them in the lands: you could call it a kind of friend, yes, friends are not only your own white people, like yourself, you take into your house, pray with in church and work with on the Party committee. But how can those others”
Nadine Gordimer (Springs. 20 november 1923)