South Africa: land of amazing varieties of wildlife, breathtaking mountain views, diverse people, perennial cricket chokers, and one of the world's best rugby national teams.
However, fiction would have you believe that South Africa isn't much more than a spawn point for big-game poachers, mercenaries, and bloodthirsty military types, who are probably Politically Incorrect Villains to boot.
There's a degree of truth to this: During the Cold War, South African mercenaries participated in various conflicts and civil wars across the African continent. After the end of The Apartheid Era, the South African military and police forces downsized a lot, which left a lot of highly trained South African soldiers and paramilitary operators looking for jobs—which they found as Private Military Contractors. When those battle-hardened guys brought their Apartheid-era sensibilities to the table... well, look out. From a storytelling point of view, apartheid-era South Africa was the archetypal pariah state for decades during the 20th century, making them an easy choice for villains, especially since the regime seemed to propagate the long-discredited racial ideas of the Nazis (if a less extreme variant).
Going back even further, the Boers (Dutch settlers in South Africa) fought a pair of unsuccessful uprisings against the ruling British Empire in the late 19th century, during which time the Boers coined the word "commando" (and during which time the British made use of concentration camps). Needless to say, there's a long tradition of brutal warfare in South Africa.
Despite the title, this trope isn't only for Afrikaners (Dutch South Africans). It's possible for Rooineks (British South Africans) to be just as nasty, and Rhodesians (white Zimbabweans) and white Namibians also show up. For native black South Africans (such as those of Xhosa or Zulu descent) who you don't want to mess with, see Badass Native and Scary Black Man.
See South Africa, The Second Boer War, and The Apartheid Era for more information, South Africans with Surface-to-Air Missiles for the current military of South Africa, and Private Military Contractors, Former Regime Personnel, Sociopathic Soldier, Bounty Hunter, and Hired Guns for various roles these guys often play in stories. The more ideologically extreme Afrikaners often become Right Wing Militia Fanatics or Western Terrorists.
- In the original Scrooge McDuck comics, Scrooge's nemesis Flintheart Glomgold is portrayed as a South African Boer (the Ducktales version made him Scottish). He is essentially a more ruthless version of Scrooge himself, and is willing to murder people and feed the corpses to the jackals in order to achieve his goals.
- Kirk DePaul, the sixth man to wear the mantle of DC Comics' Manhunter, isn't a villain per se, but he's a massive Jerkass and has no qualms about using the many lethal weapon he carries.
- The Spawn spinoff Sam & Twitch had an arc featuring South African villains who left parts of the murder victim's body at the crime scene. (Parts like thumbs.)
- Alan Moore's 2000 AD strip "Skizz" had the sadistic and xenophobic government alien-hunter Mr. Van Owen, (possibly named as a Shout-Out to the Warren Zevon example below), who didn't just have a stage South African accent, but was drawn as a clearly-recognisable caricature of PW Botha.
- The obscure DC comic The New Guardians had a white supremacist South African recurring villain named Janwillem Kroef.
- Neil Gaiman's Black Orchid includes a group of hunters tracking down Black Orchid and her childlike companion in the Amazon. It's implied they're South African—the ruthless leader is named Vandervoort, and one of his men mentions Pietermaritzburg (a South African city).
- In Batwing, the series never comes out and says that rich bastard Ancil Marksbury is an Afrikaner, but considering that he's a white guy who lives in the Democratic Republic of Congo and whose family is said to own a significant portion of Africa, one can make the assumption.
- In Spider-Man Noir, Dr Octopus is a white South African eugenicist and Nazi sympathiser who lobotomises Black people to turn them into mindless slaves.
- The Mass Effect fanfic Interstitium seems to cast Zaeed Massani as this. His nationality is never mentioned in the games themselves, but he repeatedly tells stories of fighting in Namibia in his youth with CASAI (the Coalition for the Advancement of South African Interests), and his British accent is broad enough that it could conceivably be South African.
- A "South Africa" exploiting all the clichés and perceived stereotypes is developed in the Discworld fics of A.A. Pessimal.
- A character called Horst Lensen is introduced as a brash, opinionated and rather loud young man who somehow survives seven years at the Assassins' Guild School. He could be seen as a typical bro and boykie with a streak of zef in him. In the opinion of one compatriot, a pielkop, a bliksem and perhaps a draadtrekker. However, he has several Near-Death-Encounters in Gap Year Adventures, and grows up as a result.
- Subverted by Hans Ruijterman from Slipping Between Worlds: Ruijterman is a Rhodesian who later moved to South Africa, but left when the rumblings against apartheid began. While he is nostalgic for the Rhodesia of his youth and resents being targeted by black politicians with a chip on their shoulder against whitey, he has nothing but respect for the black soldiers he served and serves with, frequently questions why black soldiers in Rhodesia and South Africa stayed loyal ("We gave them nothing to be loyal to") and was "encouraged" by BOSS to leave South Africa because of his "dangerously liberal" attitudes towards apartheid laws. And by "dangerously liberal", we mean "got pissed he couldn't have a drink with his black comrades, headed out into the townships to do just that, and incited a race riot when the police came to run him off".
- Neill Blomkamp, being South African himself, has had personal experiences with these, and has cast Former Regime Personnel from The Apartheid Era as Dragons, Dragon Ascendants and Big Bads in all his films.
- Piet Smit and Col. Koobus Venter from District 9. Smit is a Corrupt Corporate Executive and head of a PMC who doesn't give a second thought to forcibly relocating thousands of alien refugees. His underling Koobus is even worse— a vicious psychopath who cheerfully admits that he'd kill prawns for fun, and can't believe his luck that he gets paid to do so. Note that this film is set in South Africa (Johannesburg, to be exact), so just about every character in it (except for Obesandjo and his goons, who are Nigerian, and the aliens themselves) is either an example or an aversion. Wikus and Tania both fall into the latter category.
- Kruger and his henchmen Drake and Crowe from Elysium. Notable because they're a trio of South African mercs in futuristic Los Angeles— they aren't exactly inconspicuous.
- Vincent Moore from Chappie is more of a Mad Scientist, but he's lived in Johannesburg for a while and Moore is both a mercenary and a former soldier. Though he seems consistent with an Amoral Afrikaner, he's actually originally Australian (he served in the SAS), so he doesn't quite fit.
- Blood Diamond:
- Col. Coetzee, who became a mercenary when Apartheid ended. Also Rudolf Van de Kaap, head of the company that's profiting off the titular diamonds.
- Danny Archer, Leonardo DiCaprio's character, isn't technically South African (he's from Rhodesia, pre-revolutionary Zimbabwe), but served in the South African military, and is only slightly more heroic than the people he's fighting until the very end.
- Red Water: Langley Kirkwood is Brett, a psychopathic diver obsessed with sharks.
- In the 2004 film In My Country, involves victims of apartheid testifying about their experiences and perpetrators confessing to their crimes in return for an offer of amnesty. Brendan Gleeson plays De Jager, an unrepentant racist colonel who strikes a deal with African-American protagonist to incriminate his superiors in return for a possible amnesty offer, which he doesn't get on the grounds that his actions were disproportionate and excessively cruel.
- The villains in Lethal Weapon 2 are South African government drug dealers (and an assassin) with Diplomatic Impunity.
- The film version of The Sum of All Fears features a South African arms dealer who finds the lost Israeli bomb and sells it to the Big Bad.
- The Big Bad of The Gods Must Be Crazy is South African, and one of the only white men in his terrorist organization.
- George of the Jungle has Lyle hire a half-dozen of these to capture George for him. But they prove no match for George's gorilla friends.
- The Color of Friendship:
- Mahree Bok's father, a South African policeman. On the surface, he seems like a regular man enjoying a dinner with his family in a restaurant. But his joy at Steve Biko being arrested, his racist viewpoints, and his nonchalant attitude toward a black waiter being assaulted certainly make him this.
- Mahree herself is a subversion. She starts out as being pretty racist, but this is more due to the society she grew up in than any genuine hate. Her time spent with the Dellums family and her friendship with Piper whittle away her old prejudices.
- Invoked in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with international gangster Ulysses Klaue, an enemy of Black Panther who appears in Avengers: Age of Ultron and Black Panther (2018). Like in the comics, he's actually a Belgian of Dutch descent, but the films have him operating out of South Africa. He's hardly picky about whom he sells to or works for, and threatens clients who don't pay on time, but he does offer visitors candy. His assistant Limbani in Black Panther is played by a native South African David S. Lee.
- The Private Military Contractors in Sheena are all white Africans, led by a guy named Colonel Jorgensen. They're presented as brutish and militaristic, massacring an entire village just to make a point, refer to the black Zambuli tribesmen as "those bastards," and later attack a herd of antelope using their helicopter. Only a few of them bother trying for an Afrikaner accent, though.
- Cry Freedom: All of the Afrikaner characters (except for one) come off this way. Of course, since they're State Security officers, that's not really surprising.
- The "wet team" that invades Frank Moses' home at the beginning of Red (2010) are said to be an independent South African hit-squad-for-hire.
- G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra depicts Zartan as one of these. Hes played by Afrikaner actor Arnold Vosloo.
- Operation Delta Force: The terrorist legion in the film are a White Supremacist group who wants to steal a highly-contagious viral strain to cleanse the world "in their own image". Their boss, Colonel Johann Nash, is explicitly depicted to be openly racist, frequently throwing racial slurs at Ernie Hudson's protagonist.
- Played With in The Purge: Election Year, which features a scene with foreign "murder tourists" flocking to America to participate in the annual Purge. Among them are a party of South Africans, both black and white and quite friendly with each other; although there's none of the racism this trope usually implies, they are still taking a holiday to kill people for sport.
- Deon Meyer's Blood Safari (Afrikaans title Onsigbaar) has two Amoral Afrikaners as the villains who would do anything to keep their dirty secret under wraps. They have strong political connections to both the Apartheid government and the new one. Lemmer, the anti-hero protagonist, could is also pretty amoral at times. His love-interest, Emma le Roux and her family (alive or dead), are aversions.
- The Harry Turtledove novel The Guns of the South is about time-traveling members of the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (Afrikaner Resistance Movement, or AWB for short) who give AK-47s to the Confederacy to help them win the American Civil War.
- Hugo Grief, the Mad Doctor villain of the second Alex Rider book, Point Blanc, and his assistant Mrs. Stellenbosch, are both South Africans who after the end of apartheid emigrated to Austria. Their extremely racist views would make Hendrik Verwoerd himself (or hell, even most Nazis) protest; they took a kind of sadistic pleasure in the subjugation of black people in their native country. Their plan is to clone Grief, give the clones Magic Plastic Surgery to make them look like the children of influential billionaires, and indoctrinate them as white supremacists, so that apartheid will eventually be restored in South Africa and possibly other countries around the world as well.
- Eeben Axelroot, the pilot in The Poisonwood Bible, fits this trope to a T. He runs dubious errands for anyone who will pay, he definitely knows something about the American plots to kidnap and murder Congolese leaders- and he seems downright gleeful about all of it.
- The South African Police Force as depicted in Tom Sharpe's apartheid-era black comedies, Riotous Assembly and Indecent Exposure. The police commander is an incompetent idiot, his deputy Lieutenant Verkramp is a vicious paranoid psychopath (and local BOSS sector head — i.e., secret policeman). The rank-and-file coppers on the Piemburg force are a bunch of social dregs who regularly arrest black African women for purposes of rape. The worst of the lot is the possibly part-black Konstabel Els, a nutjob and killer who does things like fight a Doberman guard dog bare-handed — and bites it to death.
- A retroactive variant in the Star Trek: The Lost Era novel Catalyst of Sorrows. Agent Luther Sloan of Section 31, a rogue paramilitary group within the Federation hierarchy, is said to have been born in South Africa. Somewhat of an unexpected choice for background since his canon incarnation from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has no trace of any African accent (he's played by William Sadler, who uses his native Buffalo, NY accent with the character).
- Vortex's villains are Afrikaaner hardliners who hate, in no particular order, blacks, all other minorities, Communists, foreigners, South-Africans-of-British-descent, and Afrikaaners who are not hardline enough.
- World War Z has Paul Redeker, he who created the Redeker Plan that gave humanity its much-needed shot in the arm to start fighting back... which was originally created as a government plan for use in case of revolution during The Apartheid Era and is noticeable for taking The Needs of the Many ("the many" being those who could be considered strategically useful to the Zombie War, in this case) to a pretty cold-blooded extreme. Redeker ultimately turns out to be something of a subversion: when Nelson Mandela himself extends a hand of forgiveness and friendship, Redekers Straw Vulcan façade cracks and he develops a split personality, forgetting that he ever was Paul Redeker. The interviewer visits him in a mental asylum, where he is kept under heavy guard.
- Notably averted by some of the South African soldiers who come to escort Redeker to Pretoria during the crisis: even as desperate as they are to hear his plan, theyre disgusted by its callousness.
- Reuben Rosenthall, the antagonist of the Raffles short story "A Costume Piece", is an illicit diamond buyer who owns slaves and made his fortune in South Africa.
- Dick Francis: in Forfeit the Big Bad Vjoersterod and his henchman Ross (a former government-sanctioned Torture Technician) are South African expats who make a fortune rigging English horse races and are willing to both threaten horrific violence and deliver it to anyone who gets in their way. Zigzagged in Smokescreen where the novel takes place in South Africa. The Big Bad is not a native of the Country and many of its residents are portrayed sympathetically but we do get some selfish Apartheid-condoning reporters and a weaselly PR man wiling to hurt people for Publicity Stunt's .
- The Draka is an expansive Alternate History series centered around the Draka Empire, a South Africa-based white supremacist, expansionist, totalitarian regime that conquers much of the world. They're not so much strictly Afrikaners as an amalgam of various reactionary white/European movements throughout history (Confederates, Crown Loyalists, French Royalists, etc.) but the implications aren't hard to see, especially since the series began during the most bitter, climactic years of the anti-apartheid struggle.
AlternateHistory.com user Thande: The reason I bring up Stirling was that it reminded me of how he views Afrikaners, especially in The Peshawar Lancers where that one Afrikaner airship captain betrays the good guys to the evil Satanist cannibal Russians purely because the British stopped his people from doing some of the nasty things they like doing to "blicks". As if Afrikaners literally have nothing more important in life to do then sit up all night thinking of new interesting ways to make black people's lives more hellish.
- Perhaps under Draka's influence, it became something of an infamous cliché in alternate history circles for Afrikaners or Afrikaner-analogues to be expansionist racists with no redeeming qualities.
- The Star Fraction by Ken MacLeod mentions at one point that South African paramilitaries are brought in to control civil unrest in balkanised England. The South African accent is mocked in the narrative by being spelled funetikally.
- In Dark Angel, the Red Series were mercenaries who supposedly came from South Africa.
- In the Burn Notice episode "Breaking and Entering", Michael poses as a businessman with interest in a diamond mining venture to stake out a private military company's security setup. His cover story includes wanting to hire the PMC to wipe out a Kenyan village that's in his way, and he affects a South African accent for the role. At least one of the PMC's soldiers (a Cold Sniper who shows up in one scene late in the episode) also has an Afrikaner accent.
- Subverted in an episode of NUMB3RS. A bank is robbed and a number of safety deposit boxes are emptied. The boxes belong to a number of shady individuals, including a South African mercenary, and are suspected to have contained very incriminating evidence. In the end, the FBI determines that the whole thing was a Kansas City Shuffle— the Afrikaner mercenary was behind it, but instead of an elaborate heist, it was a plot to ruin the corrupt bank owner who was responsible for the death of the mercenary's brother. The merc turns the evidence over to the FBI and gives the stolen money to his brother's favorite charities.
- The Monster of the Week in the Grimm episode Mr. Sandman is an African fly-like monster who feeds on human tears and speaks with a thick Afrikaans accent.
- Played with in Crisis with Jakob Vries, the South-African-born founder of a private contractor that is implied to have done a lot of nasty jobs... and a Ballard Academy parent. When the kidnappers call him up to extort his services in exchange for getting his daughter back, he doesn't even hesitate, even though he knows he'll probably have to do something horrible. On the other hand, he is doing all this for his daughter's sake, and he privately expresses his disgust at the kidnappers' extortion.
- In the Doctor Who story "Delta and the Bannermen", the evil Human Alien Bounty Hunter Keillor has a South African accent for no apparent reason.
- In the third season of The Americans, which takes place during the 80s, Phillip and Elizabeth have to prevent a bombing intended to discredit the ANC. They have to kidnap Eugene Venter, who is a very nasty Apartheid operative, and very much this trope. The thing is, their ally on this mission, an ANC operative name Reuben, isn't exactly better, and what he does to Venter is very, very ugly... It's averted by a nice Afrikaner who's an ANC supporter though.
- An episode of Legends of Tomorrow has some South African mercenaries serve as henchmen for main villain Vandal Savage. Oddly, given the episode was set during The Apartheid Era, it has both white and black South Africans working together in service of their evil master.
- NCIS: New Orleans: In "Sleeping with the Enemy", the Big Bad employs a team of ruthless South African mercenaries to carry out his plan of terror and murder, which includes bombing public areas.
- Guerrilla: Pence is an Afrikaner policeman whom the British police hired to help break up black radical groups (it's no doubt because of his experience doing this in South Africa). He shows the same ruthless nature as usual, though he's also involved with his black female informant.
- The Flash (2014): The DeVoes seem to have become this in the course of their research, although the flashbacks we see portray them as originally having been nice, normal people.
- An episode of Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders revolved around these; a Sociopathic Soldier squad from the apartheid era had killed a white woman (as a false flag attack) and her brother was hunting them down for revenge.
- In the 1979 miniseries Quatermass, set in a grim, dystopian near-future Britain, the UK's police services have been disbanded and replaced by the Contract Police, or 'pay cops', a force comprised of overly aggressive and not-very-bright mercenaries. The novelization of the story makes it clear that they are almost exclusively white South Africans and the ones heard speaking in the TV series have Afrikaner accents.
- Spitting Image made fun of this archetype with the song "I've Never Met A Nice South African". The producers of the show would go on to justify the song on the basis that it was necessary to show moderate South Africans just how much the rest of the world disapproved of apartheid.
- Colonel DeBeers (real name Ed Wiskowski), a pro-apartheid heel who wrestled in the AWA from 1985 to 1990. Though he was billed out of Cape Town, he didn't even try to sound like it.
- The Truth Commission, a group of paramilitary white-supremacist Heels who wrestled in the WWE from 1996 to 1998. Kurrgan got his start here, as "The Interrogator", before shedding the gimmick and becoming one of the Oddities.
- Celtic Championship Wrestling has Jack Vice, who is actually South African and wrestles with the flag on his gear. He's also a Heel and The Brute of The Establishment.
- Spitting Image even did an entire song based on it: "Never Met A Nice South-African", which listed all the negative stereotypes of White South-Afrikaaners. It was strong stuff, but with Apartheid in full swing, that portrayal (and mockery) was generally seen as an important propaganda tool in bringing down that racist system. They note there are some nice white South Africans however — those that opposed apartheidnote .
No he's never met a nice South African.
And that's not bloody surprising mun.
Cause we're a bunch of talentless murderers.
Who smell like baboons.
- Several years before they would become famous worldwide for producing War Horse, the Handspring Puppet Company premiered Ubu and the Truth Commission, a retelling of Alfred Jarry's late-19th century Dada work Ubu Roi that changed the titular character from a Villainous Glutton Psychopathic Manchild into a greedy, none-too-bright, and self-interested agent of a South African death squad.
- Sgt. Blisk of the IMC in Titanfall. He's a Psycho for Hire who orders his men to open fire on civilian vessels in the first mission of the campaign. He would later survive to lead the Quirky Miniboss Squad in the sequel and years later would host a popular bloodsports show.
- Many of the mercs in Far Cry 2 are Afrikaners and working for either the United Front for Liberation and Labour (UFLL) or the Alliance for Popular Resistance (APR), a pair of differing political sides that are the same even in story. The Afrikaners speak Afrikaans and have some pretty funny lines sometimes.
- Hoyt Volker, the Big Bad of Far Cry 3. Unlike most examples of this trope, Hoyt isn't a soldier; however, he's a ruthless slaver and drug kingpin who commands a small army of mercenaries and can still hold his own in a knife fight. He even gets an orientation speech to his men threatening to burn alive anyone who goes against the company rules- 1, don't damage his slaves: 2, kill any natives you meet: and 3, all profits go to him. Many of his men appear to be Afrikaners, too.
- Frickie Van Hardenburg, a minor antagonist in Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony, is a South African businessman who is secretly an arms dealer responsible for selling weaponry to brutal regimes and conflicts. He's also a drug trafficker and slave trader.
- The villain in the original Soldier of Fortune is one Sergei Dekker, a former colonel under apartheid who blames the west for South Africa's "downfall" and plots to get revenge by nuking the United Nations. His brother, Wilhelm "Sabre" Dekker, is a black market arms dealer and terrorist with largely the same goals.
- The Vermaak 88 from inFAMOUS 2 were a unit of world-famous South African mercenaries even before they were powered up with freezing powers. Unfortunately, the psychological trauma associated with the change means they're almost all completely Ax-Crazy, with the exception of one Defector from Decadence who helps Cole out in the Good Karma missions. They are arguably a subversion, as information you can find ingame shows they weren't all that villainous before they were forcibly given their powers, and even then, their main goal is to heal their insanity.
- Donovan Hock from Mass Effect 2, the Big Bad of Kasumi's story arc and a notorious smuggler and weapons dealer, speaks with an Afrikaans accent, suggesting that even in the future, this trope is still in massive effect.
- The Africa sections in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain have two PF's made up of ex-SADF soldiers. They work primarily with UNITA rebels in Angola and can be pretty nasty at times, with the larger of the two explicitly being a front for Cipher. There's also a third PF that is also made up of white Africans and is just as bad, however that one is mostly comprised of ex-Rhodesian SAS instead. The black mercenaries you face are obviously coded to be just as ruthless and prefer to speak Afrikaans. Ironically, due to randomized enemy game chatter, they'll have pretty civil chats with black enemy NPC mooks. No racism abound.
- In Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, several unnamed members of Rameses' gang— who otherwise appear to be made up of Yemeni locals— speak with South African accents.
- The main enemies of Uncharted 4: A Thief's End are Shoreline, a South African PMC hired by the main villain composed primarily of Afrikaners, with their leader being Nadine Ross, a black South African woman. That said, Nadine's only a Punch-Clock Villain, she's increasingly uncomfortable with the lengths her employer is willing to go to in order to get Avery's treasure, and eventually she leaves him behind. In the following game, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, Nadine lost control of Shoreline and is working as an independent contractor Chloe Frazer, eventually performing a HeelFace Turn (relatively speaking in that she goes from merc to treasure hunter). Her former lieutenant Orca and the rest of her men stay amoral, though.
- One of Agent 47's targets in Hitman: Blood Money is a South African white supremacist selling bio-weapons for blood diamonds on the black market.
- PAYDAY 2 has Vernon Locke, a mercenary who serves as one of the contractors in the game, which typically involves the PMC he works for. Despite being South African, he works for the American Murkywater PMC and he's more of a tech expert than a typical gun for hire.
- The Krenel mercenaries from Disco Elysium check most of the boxes of this trope: they're racist, sociopathic war criminals in the service of a PMC that has been forced to rebrand multiple times after PR disasters; most of their service history involves massacring black people in Third World backwaters; and they've all got Dutch surnames. However, Disco Elysium liberally utilizes fantasy counterpart cultures, and the mercs' home country of Oranje is more of a Cultural Chop Suey of the Netherlands and the United States than a straight riff on South Africa, so this trope is ultimately more Played With than played straight.
- Mutro Botha, from Batman Beyond episode "The Final Cut" is a Society of Assassins member who extorts Batman into protecting him from Curaré by planting a high-yield bomb somewhere in Gotham that only he can locate and disarm in time. Even if you were to chalk such a craven act up to desperation, he's still an immoral, unrepentant assassin, so it's hard to feel bad for him when Curaré ambushes and mind wipes him while Batman is distracted.
- While the original DuckTales portrayed Flintheart Glomgold (see Comic Books above) as Scottish, DuckTales (2017) has him as actually South African but putting on a fake Scottish persona in his efforts to outdo Scrooge in everything.