Editorial | Beware the hate machine

accreditation
0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
The offences – real and rumoured – result in retribution against a whole group that the offender is believed to be associated with. Photo: Supplied
The offences – real and rumoured – result in retribution against a whole group that the offender is believed to be associated with. Photo: Supplied

VOICES


In a volatile society such as ours, it is not difficult for provocateurs to instigate acts of violence against “the other”. Often, this “other” is foreign nationals who are attacked on the basis of some wrong one of their own has done or is rumoured to have done.

The offences – real and rumoured – result in retribution against a whole group that the offender is believed to be associated with. The sporadic outbreaks of xenophobic violence we have witnessed since 2008 have generally followed the same pattern, and many innocent individuals have become victims of those violent sprees.

This is not to say there are no underlying issues that cause the outbursts of violence – the dire living conditions and the lived experiences of the working class provide dry tinder for troublemakers.


It was not surprising that the gut-wrenching gang-rape of eight women in Gauteng’s West Rand a few weeks ago was going to lead to a frenzied backlash against “the other”. The informal settlement from where the rapists are believed to have originated is populated by illegal miners, most of whom are undocumented immigrants from countries such as Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

READ: Krugersdorp violence: 15-year-old among seven charged over rapes of eight women

For a long time now, residents in West Rand towns have been complaining to the authorities about the reign of terror conducted by bands of zama zamas. Horrific tales of rapes, murders and robberies are par for the course.

Because the bulk of the zama zamas are said to be from Lesotho, much hatred has been generated against people from that country. Fed up with the state’s inability to protect them against the zama zamas, or Marashiya, as the marauding gangs are also known, the communities unleased a wave of violence against Lesotho nationals. Whole settlements were torched and families driven into the bushes. It did not matter whether or not they were associated with illegal mining, just the hint of Lesotho nationality was enough to damn them.

Abetted by a state that is either incapable of looking after its people or just uncaring, and fuelled by anonymous fire-stokers on social media, South Africans are constantly adding to the groups of people we want to hate. This is just not sustainable. If we continue at this rate, we will be headed towards a xenophobic conflagration worse than the 2008 and 2015 waves.

READ: Krugersdorp rapes: 7 suspects abandon bail applications as more men charged

Government needs to recognise the urgency of what could hit this country in the not-so-distant future should these temperatures continue to rise.


We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24

E-Editions

Read the digital editions of City Press here.
Read now
Voting Booth
Cricket SA is considering replacing Mark Boucher with two coaches, one for red-ball and the other for white-ball responsibilities. Is this a good move?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Love the idea
34% - 67 votes
Hate the idea
34% - 67 votes
They must just be local
31% - 61 votes
Vote