All-white town fights to preserve segregation in Mandela’s ‘Rainbow Nation’

KLEINFONTEIN, South Africa – An all-white enclave less than an hour from South Africa’s capital is fighting to hold on to a segregated life reminiscent of the country before Nelson Mandela toppled the apartheid regime.

An all-white community less than an hour from South Africa's capital is fighting to hold on to a segregated life. (Marc Shoul / Panos for NBC News)

An all-white community less than an hour from South Africa’s capital is fighting to hold on to a segregated life. (Marc Shoul / Panos for NBC News)

“We feel that our culture is being threatened and we want to protect it and we want to nurture it,” said Marisa Haasbroek, a writer and mother who serves as voluntary spokeswoman for a gated community called Kleinfontein.

Kleinfontein does not hide its ties to South Africa’s divided past, nor its mistrust of the country’s present: At its entrance stands a bust of Hendrik Verwoerd, who is seen as the father of apartheid.

A fence surrounds its almost 2,000 acres and guards in fatigues police at the entrance of the community condemned as “racist” by some critics. Among the reasons that Haasbroek and others in the cooperative town cite for walling themselves off are the country’s high crime rates and institutionalized affirmative action, which they say results in white people being frozen out of jobs and university places.

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About fbrinleybruton

F. Brinley Bruton has been a journalist for 15, and worked in Kabul, Mexico City, Philadelphia, and New York City. Now based in London, she is a editor, producer and senior writer at NBCNews.com, a leader in breaking news and original journalism online that gets over a billion page views a month. Before joining MSNBC.com -- which became NBCNews.com in 2012 -- Brinley wrote about security, business and finance, international development and women’s issues. She has worked at Reuters in London and New York, and her pieces have appeared in the New Statesman, The Guardian, Los Angeles Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Long Island Newsday, The Star-Ledger, and Arabies Trends, among others. She also wrote and blogged for AlertNet, Reuters’ humanitarian news website.
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