Have we lost it?

2011-06-25 17:46

Raenette Taljaard, UCT senior political studies lecturer
“The fundamental challenge is to address the criminal justice system in South Africa. We got it right during the World Cup, why can’t we get it right now? Our democracy is only 17 years old and the military character of the (apartheid) police is still lodged in the minds of many South Africans. So militarisation of the police is wrong. We have to fight xenophobia. The sheer financial duress and job losses are some of the factors causing this.”

Kabelo Mabalane, musician involved with the SHOUT Foundation

“South Africans have not lost it. We must not be distracted by a few foxes trying to spoil the vine.
As disappointing as this situation is, I would not be alarmed by these incidents because they are not a true representation of how the broader South African community feels about foreigners. The recent attacks,
I believe, are due to individuals or groups taking the law into their own hands and inciting violence while masquerading
it as defending our country.”

Imran Khan (22), entrepreneur, Bezuidenhout Valley, Joburg
“I think South Africans have lost their humanity in many ways.
South Africans have developed many negative and unhealthy platforms through which they channel their anger and frustration. The irony is that the issues causing the anger and frustration seem to be systemic of the socioeconomic problems which face both foreign nationals and citizens, while the product of these emotions is manifested in violence that is directed at some of its own victims.”

Simphiwe Dana, Afro-pop singer

“People don’t have power over their own communities, so what you call mob violence is a way of claiming back that power. Plus, the police and the law enforcement don’t get there (to the people) on time.
People are poor and they don’t have jobs, so they attack persons weaker than themselves to feel good. You can scream all you like about how bad or evil people are, but until we understand their anger and their living conditions
we won’t solve anything.”

Leon Wessels, former commissioner at the SA Human Rights Commission
“The problem is that people have lost their faith in the judicial system and the country’s administrative processes. It worries one that people lose their root values in the process. You will only solve the problem if you look the demon in the eye and acknowledge it, instead of sugar-coating it. Public figures who use the most reactionary rhetoric is another problem.”

Iman Rappetti, eNews channel anchor

“There’s a disconnect between middle-class South Africa and what is loosely referred to as ‘grassroots’ South Africa. In informal settlements there’s more competition for resources; jobs and homes among them. Policy and service delivery failures have raised the temperature, creating a tinderbox for violence.
These (incidents of violence) are crucial signposts for government and civil society that if left unchecked could become viral.”

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