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South Africa: Song stirs bitter controversy

Bono says "Shoot the boer" is culture, but others say the song incites murder.

“Bono is right about freedom songs! But do hate-speech songs qualify? This is the only question,” Hofmeyr wrote in another Twitter post.

Fueling the debate has been the often brutally violent killings of white farmers. More than 3,000 white farmers have been murdered since 1994, although a committee of inquiry in 2003 could find evidence that only 2 percent of farm attacks were racially or politically motivated. Robbery was usually the main motive, but the attacks were often unnecessarily violent, raising questions about whether they were fueled by racial anger.

Some groups have claimed that “Shoot the Boer” has incited the murders of whites, including the killing of white supremacist Eugene Terreblanche last year, allegedly bludgeoned to death by two black farm workers in a dispute over wages.

After the murder of Terreblanche, the ANC told its members to stop singing “Shoot the Boer.” ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said that while Terreblanche’s murder had not been politically motivated, the song contributed to racial hatred.

AfriForum, the Afrikaner lobby group, has argued that the song’s meaning has racial overtones. “The word ‘boer’, in this context, is a derogatory word referring to farmers, whites and to Afrikaners in particular,” an AfriForum affidavit said.

However, the same group said on Sunday that it supported Bono’s comments, emphasizing that while there is room for struggle songs, it is “stupid” to sing them in public.

Pieter Mulder, leader of the Freedom Front Plus party and deputy minister of agriculture, has publicly opposed the song. “Presently, where farmers are murdered every week and violence and murder have become part of society, phrases such as ‘shoot the Boer’ are totally unacceptable,” he said. “In the light of the hate speech sections in the Constitution, these types of phrases should be prohibited by the courts.”