So it came as a shock when, on a sweltering Christmas Eve afternoon in 1996, two bombs ripped through a shopping area just down the street from the police station and the Dutch Reformed Church. The blasts killed four people—three of them children. Nearly 70 people were injured. All the victims were blacks and Coloureds. The first bomb to go off, around 1:20, hit Olga Macingwane in such a way that her legs swelled instantly to the size of tractor tires. Minutes later, the second bomb went off, and she was blown unconscious.
"For 13 years I never saw the person who did this to me," Macingwane says, speaking from her sitting room in Zwelethemba on a very warm Sunday morning in late November 2009. Macingwane is a profoundly proper woman of a certain age. She is wearing a pink, ankle-length pencil skirt and matching jacket. Outside her home the township is in the midst of open-air church services, and Macingwane has to raise her voice to be heard. She gets up stiffly—it is obviously painful for her to walk—and closes the door to the yard and to the world at large. The singing reaches into her home unabated. "In my head," she continues, as the choirs of at least three churches compete on the torrid air, "I pictured him. In my head he is a man of 50 years old, very big, with a long beard and a very severe face. That is the man who did this thing. That is the person I see in my nightmares."
A Turning Point
South Africa's selection to host the 2010 World Cup gave people a surge of confidence. Their nation could now be remembered for bringing the world soccer rather than apartheid. South Africa's modern infrastructure, enviably chic airports, cosmopolitan restaurants—its public face—all support the suggestion that its tragic history is just that, history. Much of Soweto, Johannesburg's infamous township in which apartheid-era violence visible to the foreign media occurred, is now a series of bucolic suburbs: Florida-lite architecture behind smooth lawns, sleek foreign cars in driveways. (Squatter camps encroaching, it is true.) South Africa has a burgeoning black middle class, and since 1994 the government has built almost three million houses. In Johannesburg, just across the road from a casino and an amusement park, tourists can visit the impressive Apartheid Museum.
But scratch the surface of any community, and one way or another there it is, the A-word. In May 2008 more than 60 people were killed and tens of thousands displaced in xenophobic riots targeting mainly Mozambicans and Zimbabweans. Apartheid ensured a deep mistrust of "other" and a sense of resource entitlement—based as much, if not more, on who you were as on what you did—that carries over to this day.