S. Africa 'radical' warns other whites
Johannesburg — BEYERS Naude is making South Africa's white Afrikaners uncomfortable again. Politely but persistently he tears at the Afrikaner ''myths'' that he believes hang like a veil between them and reality in South Africa.
You could hear a pin drop when Mr. Naude told students at an Afrikaner University recently that one day South Africa would unques-tionably have a government decided on by the country's black majority. ''You must accept this if you want to be meaningfully involved in the future'' of the country, he counseled.
Naude's voice is ringing loud and clear again after the recent lifting of a government banning order that effectively silenced him for the past seven years. Naude was himself once a prominent member of the Afrikaner ''establishment.'' And while most Afrikaners have written him off as a radical and a turncoat, this thin, scholarly clergyman remains one of the government's most influential - and irritating - critics.
Naude says one of the most alarming trends in current South Afrikan politics is the way the government has misled Afrikaners, lulling them into a ''false sense of security'' and apathy.
Meanwhile, Naude says black unrest in South Africa, though ''less spectacular'' than the uprising of 1976, is far more serious. ''Things are moving into a disturbing situation where the conflict could eventually become unmanageable,'' he warns.
Although worried that Afrikaners are dangerously out of touch with reality in South Africa, Naude is not anti-Afrikaner. Indeed, he says it is the government that underestimates its own supporters.
''I have more confidence in the sound common sense of the average Afrikaner to face these facts,'' he says. But first the government must lay out the facts rather than giving whites only ''half the truth,'' he says.
Naude cites as a prime example of such half truths the recent use of South Africa's army to quell black unrest and the government's assurances that most blacks welcomed this step to restoring ''law and order.'' Naude insists blacks did not support the move. Black sentiment against the Army action ''runs very deep and very strong,'' he says.
Naude's life has changed dramatically since the government, without explanation, lifted his banning order in September. The cars now parked in front of his modest suburban home north of Johannesburg are no longer those of the security police. And Naude can again travel beyond the limits of Johannesburg, where he had been confined for seven years.
But the biggest change, of course, is that Naude can now speak openly and freely. He has become so active that his wife, Ilse, jokes that she has considered asking the government to slap a new banning order on her husband so they can spend more time together.
As a young man, Naude was on the fast track to power and influence in the Afrikaner establishment. He was an officeholder in the powerful Dutch Reformed Church and was head of a local branch of the Broederbond, the once secret and powerful Afrikaner political-cultural organization.
But when protesting blacks were gunned down by the police in 1960 in Sharpeville, Naude's misgivings about apartheid and concern over the deterioration in race relations accelerated.
Three years later Naude resigned from the Broederbond and was stripped of his position as a minister in the Dutch Reformed Church due to his role as director of the new multiracial Christian Institute.
The Christian Institute increasingly associated itself with black protest movements and was the subject of a government investigation in 1973. In 1977 the government cracked down on a wide range of opposition organizations and their leaders. The Christian Institute was declared unlawful and Naude was banned.
In some ways South Africa's political climate is similar to that of the mid- 1970s: There is serious black unrest and the number of arrests under the security laws is high and rising. But for a number of reasons, Naude believes the situation is worse than the upheaval of 1976.
''Whites seem less aware of what is going on than in 1976,'' he says. For more than two months, police and blacks have been clashing in at least a score of black communities, prompting the government to call in the Army to help quell the unrest.
Naude says the government has done all it can to play down the seriousness of the situation. But he regards the open and sizable use of the Army as a ''watershed'' not only for the government but for blacks who see it as a ''de facto declaration of civil war.''
Naude believes whites in South Africa are more and more deliberately suppressing their ''feelings of fear and insecurity which erupted all at once in 1976.'' Many whites are simply ignoring the gravity of the downward trend in race relations in South Africa, he says.
Naude says whites' seeming apathy toward the present upheaval is also due to a conviction that the government is so powerful it can suppress any amount of black anger.
''In the short term that is true. But in the long term, definitely not,'' he argues.
Naude has left the white Dutch Reformed Church and now is a member of its black sister church, the Dutch Reformed Church in Africa. He says he hopes to become more involved with an organization of ministers called the Confessing Group of the Dutch Reformed Churches which is dedicated to uniting the segregated Dutch Reformed Church.
Over the past seven years Naude, a father of four, has been sustained financially by his wife's income and the international awards he has received for his church work.
Despite the difficulties, Naude says he has no bitterness toward his fellow Afrikaners.
When the Afrikaans-speaking community began to turn against him for his work with the Christian Institute, Naude says he and his wife made it a matter of ''deep and serious prayer'' asking God ''to prevent any bitterness or vindictiveness or animosity from taking root in our lives.''
Naude says if these feelings had been allowed to take root, they eventually would have destroyed him and his work.