As I was driving back from the inevitably over crowded Point today I noticed two Xhosa women laughing. They held the hands of two white toddlers as they were jumping in puddles on the side of the road. I smiled in the hope that perhaps that image could soften some of the many assumptions that surround our beautiful country.
In the landscape of South African politics we find ourselves in a very interesting time. Last week the Nation was on tenterhooks following Jacob Zuma’s sentencing. At the 11th hour he turned himself in and many breathed a collective sigh of relief. But not for long …. soon after many parts of KwaZulu-Natal descended into chaos.
South Africa (Azania) has had a chequered history. Colonial rule followed by apartheid and more recently a democracy. All have been marked by inequality and corruption. One thing has remained consistent. The wealth has been steadfastly held by a select minority. Currently South Africa has surpassed Brazil in becoming the number one country in the world with the greatest disparity between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’. On one side of the fence luxury five bedroom homes with servants, swimming pools and triple garages. On the other, ramshackle make shift shacks without running water, electrification or proper sanitation.
The brazen looting and lawlessness over the last few days may have come as a shock to many but perhaps we’ve been sitting a proverbial tinderbox for decades. What is most scary is the speed with which things have unravelled. Many questions are currently being asked whether law enforcement in this country is capable of bringing the situation under control. If ever there was a time to show the strong arm of the law, surely it is now? What has been unfolding in certain areas of KwaZulu Natal is nothing short of anarchy. And it appears to be spreading. This is probably the most serious socio political unrest since the xenophobic violence of 2008. People are afraid …. and rightly so. Are we facing a revolution? One which many feel they were denied in the early 1990’s perhaps.
With governments sluggish response to the unrest it comes at no surprise that community security groups have become more active than ever. It is understandable that that if law enforcement can’t protect people’s families, businesses and property, community members will take action. It’s undoubtedly a dangerous playing field in more ways than one. Clearly there is quite a large contingency of civilians with weapons out there. Pretty scary stuff.
As a somewhat liberal “Soutie” I’m horrified by the rhetoric of certain “Grens Vegters”. Provocative talk such as “If they’re taking the law into their own hands, then so will we”. Irresponsible, illegal, aggressive action from this sector of our population may well have catastrophic outcomes. The path towards racial warfare is a slippery one. Protecting one’s family is one thing, poking a black mamba with a stick is an entirely different matter. It only takes a few incidents and sadly, it appears they’ve been happening already. Just yesterday in K.Z.N, an innocent black family of four caught in a hail of bullets while driving passed some white militia on a koppie who assumed they were a “threat”. It’s miracle nobody was killed. Gee, thanks guys for all the help.
To make sense of it all is nigh impossible. Who am I to judge? I was one of those kids who grew up with a pool. I’ve seen what life is like on the other side of that fence but I’ve never felt it. Perhaps a revolution in South Africa is destined to be …. who knows? Until a few days ago I’d never really entertained the thought. It certainly isn’t out of the question. One things for sure, I’m not ready to fight it though. With all that we’ve been through as a Nation it just doesn’t feel like something like this could happen. Have I been naive in thinking that there’s just too much to lose and we’d all see it that way? Cry the beloved country …..
Article by Stephen Praetorious