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By Ravi Nessman in Pretoria
November 16 2002
A wave of bombings and an alleged coup plot by white extremists have spurred many aggrieved Afrikaners to speak out about their alienation and discontent in post-apartheid South Africa.
While the violence is condemned by all but the most extreme Afrikaners, many say it should send a message to the black-led Government that it can no longer ignore their problems.
"There is a lot of frustration," said Pieter Mulder, leader of the right-wing Freedom Front party. "Slowly, we are losing out."
Eight years after the end of white rule, Afrikaners remain far better off than most of the black majority. But many feel they are sliding backwards. They complain that their language, Afrikaans, is being excised from universities and government offices in favour of English, and are feeling the impact of affirmative action policies designed to lift blacks from apartheid's oppressive legacy.
They say police are not doing enough to prevent the killings of white farmers and they feel alienated by the Government's refusal to denounce the violence against whites in neighbouring Zimbabwe.
The Government denies it is ignoring the Afrikaners. This week President Thabo Mbeki and several cabinet ministers met Freedom Front officials to discuss their concerns.
Mr Mbeki recently met leaders from Afrikaans-language universities, and the ruling African National Congress has formed a coalition with the New National Party, successor to the National Party that ruled during apartheid.
But a government spokesman, Joel Netshitenzhe, said feelings of frustration might be inevitable "when you eliminate privilege and create equity across society".
In recent weeks, police have uncovered weapons caches and arrested 18 members of the Boeremag, or Farmers' Force, over an alleged right-wing plot to overthrow the Government and expel all black people from the country.
On Monday, a group calling itself the Boer Nation Warriors, which police believe is a faction of the Boeremag, emailed the media claiming responsibility for a two-hour bombing wave last month in Soweto, a black city outside Johannesburg, that damaged a mosque and three railway lines. A woman was killed when bomb debris hit her shack.
The group said the bombing was the "beginning of the end of the ANC Government".
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