Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 33 No. 14. 1970
Vorster'S Little Helpers
Vorster'S Little Helpers
"Patrys" is a monthly children's magazine published in Johannesburg by Voortrekker Press, a political publishing group of the Afrikaner Nationalist Party whose most senior members—including Cabinet Ministers and Prime Ministers—are to be found on the board of directors. The magazine is for white children only and is published only in Afrikaans. Its two editions therefore cover the Afrikaner two-thirds of white South African children between the ages of six and 18.
Early in the 1960s, South Africa's English-language press carried stories of an Afrikaner children's club whose members were encouraged to report their parents to the authorities if they suspected them of being un-South African. On January 30 and February 6, 1966, the Johannesburg "Sunday Express," acting on published reports that young Afrikaners calling themselves "Patry's Detectives" were indiscriminately arresting adult Africans in Johannesburg, published the result of some investigations it had made.
In early 1966, the head of the group which publishes "Patrys" was the South African Prime Minister, Dr Verwoerd. The magazine had, since 1959, been running a detective club, which was by then 10,000 strong (equal to 250,000 prorata if the club existed in Britain) Only Afrikaans -speaking white children were admitted, the club's patron was the head of the Johannesburg C.I.D. (Criminal Investigation Department), and the membership regulations made it clear that members were to report to the commandants at police stations and accompany the police on raids—usually against Africans.
The club membership card was photographed and reproduced by the "Sunday Express" It carried the words "Authorised to co-operate with the South African Police" in Afrikaans, and was signed with the signature and stamp of the Chief of South Africa's Police, General Keevy. Copies of the magazine itself, available not only from ordinary bookshops but also from Dutch Reformed Church bookshops, confirmed all this.
However, since 1966, while South Africa has been at pains to present itself to the outside world as increasingly liberal—the "verligte" versus "verkrampte" affair being a well-known case in point and the South African Government has not only labelled its policies as "outward-looking," but has even applied the "verligte" tag to itself. Since this Government, through its Voortrekker Press, its police force, and its educational system is responsible for "Patrys" magazine, its distribution and its detective club, then "Patrys" offers not only an insight into the true policies of white South Africa, but also into the kind of people young Afrikaners are being brought up to be.
Boer War Bitterness
South African embassies have been at some pains recently to stress that the old Afrikaner exclusiveness is dead, and that Afrikaners and English-speaking South Africans are now "one people," who have forgotten the divisions of their past. "Patrys," of October, 1969, wholly belies this claim. Particularly in the official educational insert of the junior edition, there is the inevitable—and undeniably bitter — preoccupation with the Boer War, (described as the Second War of National Liberation), which has characterised Afrikanerdom for a whole lifetime.
The eight-year-olds are carefully told how "the English later punished our women and children, burned their houses down and set their pastures alight. The women and children were put into camps. These concentration camps caused the deaths of 26,000 women and children through hunger and sickness" (which is not strictly accurate). The same age group is told of the heroic young Japie Greyling, a volk-hero. The English "never thought the children of the Afrikanervolk could be so valiant!" young Japie unless he gave them information. He refused. "The English marvelled at ...a young boy who was not afraid of the enemies of his people." And much else in similar vein.
South Africa's Africans get more mention than non-Afrikaner whites, but nearly all of it is derogatory. A photostrip series The building in the woods" has as its villain a savage, loin-clothed.
African who is preoccupied with plunging his spear into whites so as to add to his collection of skulls The heroes of the strip are three virtuous and brave Afrikaner children.
Africans (always called "Bantu"—a term they dislike as much as Englishmen detest Limey") are consistently depicted as treacherous or stupid savages. A story "Guard on the Border" in this issue contains a character's comments: "I don't know much about wild animals, but I do know the Bantu. I know him as a superstitious scoundrel."
The second aspect of "Patrys" is its Detective Club Apparently, since 1966 the enthusiasm of its child members for arresting people has increased, for above the entry form on page 38 members are warned that "Patrys' detectives must understand that they are only the eyes and ears of the Police ..." and only have the right of arrest "in an emergency."
General — Major Joubert's address is given as "Head-quarters, South African Police, Pretoria." and the following page carries the interesting message- "Will all Patrys' Detectives in Pretoria North, who are aged over 15 years, please write their name, address and date of birth on a stout card and hand it in at the Charge Office at Pretoria North Police Station." The club itself accepts "Detectives" from the age of 12.
The third aspect is the existence of gangs or groups of "Patrys" Detectives, whose gang-badges are published in the magazine. One shows a man caught in the sights of a hunting rifle. Another carries the motto "Revenge is Sweet"
Reporting To Police
The pages devoted to these gangs carry headlines such as "Detectives, gangs, terrorist fighters and Communist haters! Here is great news!"—and offers membership of yet another organisation, the C.V.C. in the Transvall. The "Wind-Falcons" ask for members, who should include the address of their nearest police station, and in an editorial members of gangs are asked to report to the nearest police station when on holiday.
On an earlier page, one of the editors of "Patrys" comments on a member's letter "I am glad you told me that one can shoot more accurately at a tin when one thinks of it as a Communist."
South African embassies throughout the world are currently distributing a booklet entitled "Progress through Separate Development," carrying a foreword by Mr Vorster in which he says "I believe in the policy of separate development as the only practical solution ... to do justice to every population group as well as every individual. It is so intended" It is Mr Vorster's regime which is responsible for the "Patrys" Detective Club.
Patrys" and its junior police force present some serious implications, one of the most immediate of which must be that those day trippers from overseas industry, commerce and politics who swiftly tour South Africa (and then often proclaim themselves experts on that country) are, in fact, largely ignorant of the real South Africa unless they are fluent in Afrikaans and know where to look.
Another disturbing implication is that even the few facts quoted above—from only one issue of one Afrikaner Nationalist publication show clearly enough the bitter prejudices being built into the majority group of the future white South African nation.
In future those who seek to whitewash the regime in Pretoria will have to do so in the face of the plain evidence from one of that regime's own publications as to what it is doing to its own children, and what it is doing to race relations in its country. And not only there—for the "Patrys" Detective Club operates in Rhodesia too.
By John Lawrence"Guardian" Manchester Reprinted from "The Press" Christchurch by permission.