Ranjeni Munusamy has written a few good opinion pieces on a wide variety of topics. She writes them well and they’re usually a thought-provoking read that can open your mind and instil new opinions and ideologies. Here’s what she has to say about the latest spate of xenophobic attacks, and why South Africans are resorting to this level of human-on-human violence.
The National Police Commissioner on Thursday spoke of coordinating the “response to unrest” whilst Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba “referred to ‘flashpoints'”. The last time the words ‘unrest’ and ‘flashpoints’ were used this much was during the 80’s, says Munusamy. She explains further that “it was the time when a low-intensity civil war was raging, and political violence and bloodshed were part of our daily lives”.
And that’s exactly where we are back at.
We are currently “a nation with unrest and flashpoints”.
A country where mobs sharpen their machetes and vow to kill in front of a wall of riot policemen poised to fire. That was the image of Apartheid South Africa. Now it is the image of post-democracy South Africa.
Munusamy says that Zuma knows how to stop the violence, how it is a long process of listening to the people and then mapping out a plan that the people stick to moving forward. Zuma has even done it in other African countries. But this time around may be different: the xenophobic attacks this week are “being dealt with as if it is a service delivery protest or labour dispute that a heavy police deployment can deal with”. They were attacks with the intention to kill.
The attacks against foreign nationals have been described as “corrective violence”. Like with “corrective rape”, it is a forceful means to take matters into your own hands and attempt to change what you do not approve of. In the swirl of commentary and analysis to try to understand the xenophobic attacks, it is suggested that “corrective violence” is the means frustrated South Africans are using to rid their areas of crime and drug abuse and chasing away foreigners who take away their jobs and economic opportunities.
Is this the point of no return, where desperation has become so rife that this is the only solution?
Even with parliament sitting together yesterday, showing concern and pointing fingers, it’s not going to be enough to stop the violence.
It is the symptom of the very disconnect that has brought us to the point where ordinary people believe that nobody is listening and nobody cares. While the debate on the attacks on foreign nationals was in progress in Parliament, a mob of people was trying to attack the peace march in Durban against xenophobia. These were South Africans wanting to attack other South Africans demonstrating their opposition to violence against other Africans.
She asks what would have happened had the police not managed to stop them reaching the 3 000 people marching to City Hall, in what should have been a peace march.
Read the rest of what Munusamy has to say HERE at Daily Maverick. It’s highly worth it.
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