Machel: SA a violent nation on the brink

Johannesburg - Graca Machel has spoken out about the high levels of violence in the country, describing South Africa as an angry nation on the brink.

Machel made the comments at the memorial service of fellow Mozambican Mido Macia in Daveyton on Thursday, The Telegraph reported.

Macia died in custody after being dragged behind a police van and then allegedly being beaten by police officers.

'Bleeding and breathing pain'

Machel, who is married to former president Nelson Mandela, said the "increasing institutionalisation of violence" was creating a police force "actively aggressive towards a defenceless public".

"South Africa is an angry nation… We are on the precipice of something very dangerous with the potential of not being able to stop the fall.

"The level of anger and aggression is rising. This is an expression of deeper trouble from the past that has not been addressed. We have to be more cautious about how we deal with a society that is bleeding and breathing pain," she told the crowd.

The death of Macia at the hands of the police and the killing of 34 striking miners at Marikana have put a spotlight on police brutality, while incidents of violence against women and children, including the recent deaths of Anene Booysen and Reeva Steenkamp, have left sent shockwaves through South African society.

Political commentator Allister Sparks told The Telegraph it was "extremely unusual" for Machel to speak out on any political issues, and "significant indeed that she has done so now".

Extreme violence

According to Adam Habib, vice-chancellor of the University of Witwatersrand, violence was now endemic in protests over corruption, a lack of basic services and continued inequality.

"People feel that extreme violence is the only way they can get heard - and police react in an even more violent way, which is beginning to seep into the national psyche," The Telegraph quoted him as saying.

Meanwhile, as Macia's memorial service was under way, President Jacob Zuma was addressing traditional leaders in Parliament, calling for a universal response to combat the recent spate of violent crime.

He pointed out that one should not lose sight of the fact that the "overwhelming majority of the 52 million South Africans are peaceful, caring, law-abiding citizens".

"They love their country. They do their best each day to make South Africa a better place. Therefore, when expressing outrage, we should be careful not to then paint all South Africans as violent and brutal. We should be careful not to rubbish our country," Zuma said.

 
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