Belinda Kriel, the Afrikaans woman at the center of the social media fallout from last week’s Hoërksool Overvaal protests has hit out at her critics, saying, “Other humans are my people”.
Speaking exclusively to Political Analysis South Africa, Kriel said she is happy to be the ‘fall-guy’ and being labelled a “traitor to my [her] race”, if it means “the start of a needed discussion about race”.
Kriel has been the subject of scorn and ridicule on social media this past week, after she was filmed on 17 January, wearing clothing bearing the African National Congress (ANC) logo, sharing her views about the Language-related protest, outside the gates of Hoërskool Overvaal in Vereeniging. In the video, Kriel says “English is international, what will we do with Afrikaans in other places?” In another part of the video she stated, “My point is we do not have Zulu schools, we do not have Xhosa schools, why do we have Afrikaans schools? Why are they privileged above us? … Our children go to university; in university they study English, so now we are doing them harm, by letting them study all the time in Afrikaans, then they must go struggle to study in English. They must just make everything in English.”
Her comments drew the ire of the Afrikaans community, with many directing their rage against Kriel on her Facebook timeline. One user wrote, “waste of white skin”, a sentiment echoed by some of those commenting on her Facebook – who chided her for being a “disgrace to our [Afrikaans] race, our children, language and culture”and being a “traitor “ to her own race. Some also took aim at Kriel’s membership of the governing ANC party, one user in response to a Facebook post by Kriel denouncing the ‘singing of kill the boer, kill the farmer” at the protest, wrote: “supporting people that openly brag how they re going to kill white children and then you still want to know what have you done?”
Kriel says she is taken aback by the level of “racism” and anger directed at her, and thinks that “these people [those hurling abuse her way] need to be talked to, “we need to see them face to face, and see each other’s points of views.” Kriel believes that communication about the issues race is critical, and hopes that this latest incident is the start of such a conversation.
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