Racists mutilate white shopkeeper for serving blacks

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The Independent Online

A white South African woman has been mutilated by two whites in a vicious racist attack for running a butcher's shop that serves blacks.

Wanda Stoffberg was attacked at the gates to her home in George, a small conservative town about 260 miles from Cape Town, by two white men in balaclavas who kicked her and told her that kaffirboeties (kaffir lovers) like her were not welcome in the town. The word kaffir is a highly derogatory term for a black person.

They carved the letter K on her chest and back with what she believes were scissors.

She said: "I just felt them kicking me all the time and then one guy sat on top of me and he said: 'This is a message from my boss. We don't need kaffir lovers like you in George'.Then another guy just held my hands behind my back and he started carving something very painful on my chest."

Mrs Stoffberg said the attack followed the drafting of a petition by her white neighbours, who complained that her shop was attracting blacks to their area. Mrs Stoffberg, who collapsed from stress yesterday, said she had moved her three-year old son to a safe house because white racists had threatened to kill him since she went public about the attack, which took place on Saturday.

"I have been harassed many times before, but I never thought it would come to this. We have moved my son to friends where he will be safe," she said.

Police are guarding the Stoffberg's property round the clock and searching for the attackers.

The attack was condemned by political parties of every persuasion, while the Stoffbergs have been inundated with calls of support from across the country.

Racism is still widespread in South Africa more than seven years after all-race elections brought an end to apartheid, but reports of whites attacking each other for racial reasons are virtually unheard of.

The incident comes at an unwelcome time for South Africa, which will host a world conference on racism at the end of the month in Durban.

Peter Louw, the principal of a local high school, said yesterday: "We know of people who have been passing petitions around for the butchery to be closed. The K on (Mrs Stoffberg's) chest and the reference to kaffirboeties say everything. We are up in arms and we will not let this go by."

Mr Louw said Mrs Stoffberg had been attacked because of her donations to black schools in the townships.

Customers at the Stoffberg's shop expressed anger about the attack and said that the Stoffbergs were providing jobs.

Mrs Stoffberg said her neighbours did not want an "undesirable element" in the area. "They were upset because I employ about 20 black people and many more come to buy from me," she said.

Her troubles started two years ago when she applied for a permit to sell meat at her house, which has abutchery attached. After applying for the permit, she did not receive a response but was later told she had to close it down. She continued to sell while trying to appeal the verdict.

Her husband, Juan, said yesterday that his family would not be intimidated by the racists in the area and pledged to keep the shop open.

* The former South African President, Nelson Mandela, said yesterday that he would not address the world conference on racism in Durban because of a seven-week course of radiotherapy he is undergoing to treat prostate cancer.