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Violence, looting leaves a bitter taste

Communities shaken

File picture: Christopher Burns/Unsplash

By The editor

A lot can change in 48 hours. We’ve lived happily in the Midlands for four years, feeling far safer than we ever did in Durban.

Not any more. It’s going to take a lot to wipe away the uneasiness and paranoia that has crept in over the past few days, fuelled by a barrage of social media and media images.

Tune out, you say. Hmmm, not so easy when it’s almost on your doorstep. And it’s not all over yet, not by a long shot.

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What was purported to be protest at the incarceration of former president Jacob Zuma (love him or loathe him, that’s a topic for another day), quite clearly morphed into mindless criminality, violence and looting. Property was destroyed, wide-scale intimidation tactics employed and, yes, many were shocked and let’s admit it, a little bit fearful. In the Midlands roads were closed, shops looted, tyres burnt, a massive shopping attraction burnt down, cars stoned and there was wide-spread intimidation.

Looting and anarchy

I shouldn’t say the criminality was mindless, because the perpetrators were either criminals, who saw a gap to make a quick “killing” and took it, or the desperate, unemployed and disgruntled who seized an opportunity to get some benefit, a quick win to temporarily ease their pain. They knew exactly what they were doing. Looting and creating anarchy.

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I get it… there are millions of South Africans who feel disenfranchised, hopeless, outside the system, excluded and who simply can’t see a way to a better life. The coronavirus is just making things worse. Everyone is pointing a finger and most fingers are zeroed in on the government.

But while it’s quite right to feel fury at the ANC’s failure to deliver, corruption, nepotism and countless lost opportunities to build a better, stronger, kinder SA, violence and criminality will never garner sympathy from me. And the bottom line is, South Africans across the spectrum will feel affronted, angry, neglected, yes “pissed off” when people come for theirs. Surely, if the authorities are incapable of doing the job, citizens have a right to protect their families and homes?

Many six-day-a-week jobsters, those holding down multiple jobs, for example, have worked their socks off to own a home, buy a car, start a business, it is their right to live unimpeded and free from acts of terror. Not everyone was born with a silver spoon in their mouth and “privileged”, and even if they were, that doesn’t give others the right to threaten, destroy and intimidate them.

We thank those in our community who have stood by us to make us feel a little safer, through our community watch, Nottingham Road collective.

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This week’s attacks on businesses, private individuals and government property hurt … they hurt a lot. To see South Africans turn on each other is painful and has created a feeling and fear that is going to take a long time to heal. All we can hope for is a quick peace, the restoration of law and order and a genuine move for reconciliation, particularly in this province.

Looting in PMB.

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