Die Burger Publishes The Term ‘Apartheid’ for the first time & Exposes Media Complicity With Morally Bankrupt Nats


DF Malan was the first editor of Die Burger and served as Prime Minister of South Africa from 1948 to 1954

ON 26 March 1942, Die Burger published for the first time the term “Apartheid”. The article, written using the pseudonym Dawie, gave insight into the term Apartheid and the state of consciousness of White Afrikaners at the time. Dawie defined Apartheid to mean “apartness,” and in the case of South Africa, the implicit emphasis was on the racial differences between ethnic groups. The term became commonly used in defence of Afrikaner nationalism and National Party (NP) policies. http://www.sahistory.org.za/dated-event/die-burger-publishes-term-apartheid-first-time

De Nationale Pers Beperkt (National Press Ltd) later to be named Naspers was formed in 1915 and in July, its daily newspaper De Burger (The Citizen) later to be named Die Burger was published. Its first editor was DF Malan, a former religious minister, who would later play a pivotal role in the implementation of apartheid policies. He became South Africa’s prime minister from 1948 to 1954.

Since inception, when a group of prominent Afrikaner nationalists got together to form a newspaper which would defend Afrikaner nationalism, Afrikaans newspapers never opposed National Party policies, their security forces, torture, dirty tricks or on any important issue.

Die Burger would continue to be the mouthpiece of the National Party for decades until the last few months of PW Botha’s term as state president. Editors of Die Burger would attend meetings of the head council of the Nationalist Party as non-voting members until the 1980s.

In 1997, 127 journalists of Naspers apologised to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) for their complicity and defence of apartheid. The submission was made by journalists, in their individual capacities, from Beeld, Die Burger, Rapport, Volksblad, Insig, Huisgenoot, Sarie, You and Fair Lady, as well as a number of former Naspers journalists.

They said “Naspers newspapers had formed an integral part of the power structure which implemented and maintained apartheid through, for instance, supporting the NP in elections and referendums.

“I, like many others… did not properly inform readers of the injustices of apartheid,” each of the 127 said in an individually signed statement.

“(I) did not oppose these injustices vigorously enough and, where I had knowledge of these injustices, too readily accepted the National Party government’s denials and reassurances.

“To all those who suffered as a result of this, I offer my sincerest apology and fully commit myself to preventing the past from being repeated.” http://www.justice.gov.za/trc/media%5C1997%5C9709/s970926g.htm

However, journalism schools, unlike medical schools, did not take the opportunity at the TRC to explore their complicity with apartheid. The founder-head of the journalism department at Stellenbosch University, Piet Cillié, for example, had spent decades editing Die Burger.

On the event of the centenary celebrations of Naspers and Die Burger in 2015, Naspers acknowledged its role in apartheid: “We acknowledge complicity in a morally indefensible political regime and the hurtful way in which this played out in our newsrooms and boardrooms,” CEO Esmare Weideman at the time.


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