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The colour of crime in South Africa

Level 3 Advanced
1 Key words
Fill the gaps using these words from the text.
backlash
atrocity
mass murderer
rainbow nation
apartheid
intruder

scrutiny
slaughter

carnage
killing spree

is the political system that existed in South Africa, in which only white people had

1.

political rights and power.


2. A/An

is a country that contains people of many different races.

3. A/An

is someone who has killed several people.

4. A/An

is a short period of time in which a large number of people are killed.

5. To
6.

a group of people is to kill them in a very violent way.


is a situation in which there is a lot of death and destruction.

7. A/An
8. Public
9. A/An

is a cruel and violent act.


is careful examination of someone or something by people in general.
is someone who enters a place where he or she is not allowed to go, especially

to commit a crime.
10. A/An

is a strong angry reaction to something that has happened.

2 What do you know?


Decide whether the statements below are true or false. Then look in the text and check your answers.
1.
2.
3.
4.

Apartheid has come to an end in South Africa.


Many black and coloured people were killed during this political system.
A large number of black and coloured people have taken revenge for the killings.
Most white people have expressed sorrow about what happened during the apartheid regime.

The Colour of Crime in South Africa


Sympathy for an apartheid mass murderer highlights the refusal of whites to take responsibility for the past
By Rory Carroll

NEWS LESSONS / The colour of crime in S Africa / Advanced

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SouthAfricasmostprolicmassmurderertakesanothersipofcoffee,easesbackinhischairandpauses
when asked if it is true he shot more than 100 black people. I cant argue with that, says Louis Van Schoor.
I never kept count. Seated at a restaurant terrace in East London, a seaside town in the Eastern Cape, the
formersecurityguardisapictureofrelaxedcondence,soakingupsunshinewhilereminiscingabouthis
days as an apartheid folk hero.

The colour of crime in South Africa


Level 3 Advanced
Hired to protect white-owned businesses in the 1980s, he is thought to have shot 101 people, killing 39, in
a three-year spree. Some were burglars; others were passersby dragged in from the street. All were black
or coloured, the term for those of mixed race. Convicted of murder but released from jail after 12 years, Van
Schoor is unrepentant. I was doing my job - I was paid to protect property. I never apologised for what I
did.
He is not the only one. The whites in East London who turned a blind eye to his killing spree have not
apologised and whites in general, according to black clerics and politicians, have not owned up to
apartheid-era atrocities. That reluctance to atone has been laid bare in a book published last month,
The Colour of Murder, by Heidi Holland, which investigates the bloodsoaked trail not only of Van Schoor
but also his daughter, Sabrina, who hired a hitman to murder her mother.
The macabre tale is likely to reignite debate about those whites who shun the spirit of the Truth and
Reconciliation Commission and mock rainbow nation rhetoric. The story is of a family but it is also the story
ofadividedcountryandofthepeopleofthatcountrytryingtondnewwaystolivewitheachother,says
Holland.
Sincehisreleasetwoyearsago,afterbenetingfromasentencereductionforallconvictsissuedbyNelson
Mandela when he was president, Van Schoor, 55, has slimmed down, shaved off his beard and kept a low
prole,workingasacattlefarmforemanoutsideEastLondon.
During his 1992 trial white residents displayed I Love Louis stickers decorated with three bullet holes
through a bleeding heart. Sympathy endures, says Van Schoor. The reaction is 90% positive. Strangers
say, Hey, its good to see you. Magistrates and the police, grateful for the terror instilled in black people,
covered his tracks until local journalists and human rights campaigners exposed the carnage as apartheid
crumbled.
Van Schoor was convicted of seven murders and two attempted murders. Upon his release in 2004, Van
Schoor said he had found God and, when prompted, expressed sorrow to the relatives of his victims.
I apologise if any of my actions caused them hurt. In an interview last week, he tried to clarify his position.
I never apologised for what I did. I apologised for any hurt or pain that I caused through my actions during
the course of my work.
Thankstohischangedappearanceandlowprolehehasfacednobacklash.Fewblackpeoplerecognise
him, including the bookseller who took his order for The Colour of Murder. When Van Schoor gave his name
the penny dropped. She nearly fell off her chair, he says, smiling.
Married four times and now engaged once more to a local woman, Van Schoor, speaking softly and warily,
says he is happy and content. But he does not seem to approve of the new South Africa. Everything has
changed - peoples attitudes, the service in shops, its not the same.
On the contrary, lament black leaders, one crucial thing has stayed the same: the refusal of many whites to
admit past sins.

NEWS LESSONS / The colour of crime in S Africa / Advanced

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ArchbishopDesmondTutu,aNobelpeacelaureate,recentlysaidtheprivilegedminoritythatoncefeared
retributionhadnotshownenoughgratitudeforpeacefulinclusioninamultiracialdemocracy.Nkosinathi
Biko, the son of the murdered anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, noted the dearth of white voices during the
recent commemorations of the June 1976 Soweto uprising, when police slaughtered black schoolchildren.
Aliberalwhitecommentator,MaxduPreez,calledthesilenceembarrassing.Nowhereisitmoredeafening

The colour of crime in South Africa


Level 3 Advanced
than East London.
Van Schoors rampage was made possible by a white establishment that made no outcry as his victims piled
up,manyofthemimpoverishedchildrensuchasLieePeters,13,gunneddownwhilehidinginthetoiletof
a Wimpy restaurant after breaking in to steal cash. Eating a burger yards from where Van Schoor cornered
his prey, Jacques Durandt, a 33-year-old white former member of the security forces, defended the killer.
Iwontsayhesamurderer.Forhimitwasajob.
Wannitta Kindness, a 36-year-old white taxi driver parked outside the restaurant, says the security guard
mighthaveredeveniftheintruderwaswhite.Butyoudontndwhitepeoplebreakingintoplaces.
Others echoed the refrain: denied jobs reserved for black people, targeted by criminals, harassed in the
street, victims in South Africa these days have pale skin and they see no reason to apologise. The blacks
dont want equality, says Kindness. They want to be on top.
East London does boast at least one white advocate of racial harmony: Van Schoors daughter, Sabrina,
25. While her father was in jail she shocked the white community by dating black men and giving birth to a
mixed-race child. In 2002, in a grisly irony, she hired a black man to slit her mothers throat, claiming she
was a racist bully. Convicted of murder and sent to the same prison as her father, Sabrina Van Schoor is
seenasamartyrbysomeblackpeople.SheseemspopularamongfellowinmatesatFortGlamorganjail.
That girl, shes not like the whites outside of here. Shes OK, says one inmate.
Speaking through iron bars, Sabrina Van Schoor, powerfully built like her father, says she is nervous about
her family history coming under public scrutiny again because of the book. Im afraid it might open old
wounds.
GuardianNews&MediaLtd2006

3 Comprehension check
Match each sentence beginning with a suitable ending.
Beginnings

Endings

1. Louis Van Schoor was sent to prison

a. becausehehaskeptalowprole.

2. He was released from prison

b. when apartheid started crumbling.

3. During the apartheid regime no one knew about his


rampage

c. so he does not think he should apologise for killing

4. Magistrates and the police welcomed his killings


5. The truth about Van Schoors actions was revealed
6. Van Schoor killed a lot of black people
7. Van Schoors job was to protect property,
8. So far, Van Schoor has faced no backlash

intruders.
d. after being convicted of murder.
e. because the police hid the evidence of his actions.
f. while he worked as a security guard.
g. before completing his sentence.

NEWS LESSONS / The colour of crime in S Africa / Advanced

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h. because he instilled terror in black people.

The colour of crime in South Africa


Level 3 Advanced
4 Vocabulary 1 Idiomatic expressions
Complete the idiomatic expressions in these sentences based on the text.
1. Van Schoor never

count of the number of people he killed.

2. When he was freed, he slimmed down and shaved off his beard to keep a low

3. The bookseller didnt recognize Van Schoor but when he gave his name, the penny
4. The police covered his

because they were grateful for the terror he instilled.

5. Most whites in East London have turned a


6. Their indifference has been laid

eye to Van Schoors killing spree.


in a book by Heidi Holland.

7. Van Schoors daughter is fearful that Hollands book might open old

Now match each expression with one of the explanations below.


a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
f.
g.

To make something known that has been secret or hidden.


To try to stop people from noticing you.
To pretend not to notice something because you should do something about it but you do not want to.
To realize or understand something.
To make someone remember something bad that happened in the past.
To hide any evidence that you were somewhere or did something.
To remember or record a number as it changes over a period of time.

5 Vocabulary 2 Taking responsibility and saying you are sorry


The text uses several expressions to state that most whites dont take responsibility or say they are sorry for what
happened during the apartheid regime. Use the chart to classify the expressions below. There are four expressions
that you do not need to use.

NEWS LESSONS / The colour of crime in S Africa / Advanced

Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2006

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1. reminisce about something


2. apologise for something
3. own up to something
4. atone
5. shun something
6. express sorrow about something
7. boast about something
8. admit something
9. be repentant about something
10. mock something

The colour of crime in South Africa


Level 3 Advanced
Take responsibility for something

Say that you are sorry for something

Now match the expressions you didnt use with the explanations below:
a. To make something seem silly
b. To deliberately avoid something
c. To think about experiences in your past
d. To have something good

6 Vocabulary 3 Abstract nouns


Fill in the blanks with abstract nouns derived from the verbs or adjectives in parentheses.
1. Seated at a restaurant, Van Schoor is a picture of relaxed

.(condent)

2. VanSchoorisnowfreebecausehebenetedfromasentence

.(reduce)

3. He has slimmed down and shaved off his beard to change his

.(appear)

4. Black leaders complain about the whites


5. The whites have shown no
(grateful,include)

toadmitpastsins.(refuse)
for their

6. Some people think that blacks dont want


7. With grisly

in a multi-racial democracy.
.(equal)

,VanSchoorsdaughterhiredablackmantokillhermother.(ironic)

7 Discussion

NEWS LESSONS / The colour of crime in S Africa / Advanced

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How do you think Van Schoor should be dealt with? Should he and the whites in general apologise for the
killings during the apartheid period? Why/Why not?

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