When that BBC report came out, someone remarked on Facebook:
Kan dit nie glo nie. (I can’t believe it.)
You’d do well not to believe it. Or indeed anything else that uses Ernst Roets as a credible source.
But how was I to know just how right I was?
Do 400,000 whites live in squatter camps in South Africa, as claimed in a recent BBC report. Are there really 80 “white squatter camps” dotted around Pretoria? The answer to both is no.
Africacheck.org has looked at the 2011 census and found out that those figures are (as both the ANC and the DA suggested) inaccurate, exaggerated nonsense:
The claim that 400,000 whites are living in squatter camps is grossly inaccurate. If that were the case, it would mean that roughly ten percent of South Africa’s 4.59-million whites were living in abject poverty.
Census figures suggest that only a tiny fraction of the white population – as little as 7,754 households – are affected.
The claim that there are 80 or more “white squatter camps” in the Pretoria area would also appear to be grossly overstated. Many of the places referred to are not camps at all.
AfriForum’s Roets gave the BBC inaccurate figures and the BBC took them without apparently checking, producing a skewed piece of journalism that failed to accurately reflect reality.
And this on a story that veteran journalist John Simpson put his name to. Very sad.
In no way am I suggesting that the fact that there are 7,754 white households (or the 1,868,325 “black African” households in the same situation) living – existing – in those sort of conditions, is acceptable.
I am, however, suggesting that you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet.
Even from the BBC and especially from Ernst Roets.
UPDATE: From Anton Haber:
I am appalled that a seasoned journalist like BBC world affairs editor John Simpson should produce… such a half-arsed, skewed view of reality.
This is an appalling piece of journalism, not worthy of the BBC.
My thoughts exactly.