EDITORIAL | Cry, the beloved country

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
South Africa Police Services (SAPS) officers stop looters from looting in central Durban.
South Africa Police Services (SAPS) officers stop looters from looting in central Durban.

Just as Jacob Zuma and the Guptas looted South Africa's state-owned enterprises, a violent mob has done the same in his name.

12 July 2021 will be remembered in South African history as the day on which a 15-year-old boy's life was cut short as a result of a violent mob who sowed chaos across the land in the name of a criminal former president.

The boy was killed in Pietermaritzburg when he and his friends ended up on the wrong side of the police's rubber bullets to contain the looting mob.

Ntando Ndlovu (15), from Mpumelelo in the France township was shot and killed on Monday.Supplied

In surrounding towns and cities, the mob was destroying the economy of KwaZulu-Natal, and with it the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people, for decades to come.

A few hundred kilometres to the north, more mobs were doing the same in Soweto, Johannesburg and Tshwane.

Countless factories, shops and businesses were burnt in the name of "free Jacob Zuma". The businesses of black, Indian and white owners were destroyed indiscriminately by the mob. The biggest victims of these acts of sabotage and criminality are the workers, many of them poor and caring for their extended families.

Factories built up over decades were razed within hours. Warehouses, malls and shops were looted by the hungry mob, devoid of impunity and public shame.

While President Cyril Ramaphosa was addressing the nation, a Durban supermarket was emptied by casual criminals on camera. A few kilometres away, a thief struggled to fit a flatscreen TV into his Toyota Corolla and another looter carried his stolen goods from Woolworths to the boot of his Mercedes-Benz.

These are not poor people who stole bread because they were hungry. Those trying to justify the violence of the past 48 hours are disingenuous in the extreme. These are the actions of organised and opportunistic criminals – likely both – who are worsening South Africa's class divide.

The shocking impunity with which shops were looted echoes the impunity with which Zuma and the Guptas looted state-owned enterprises. This is the result of years of state capture and the systematic erosion of our law enforcement capacity.

The fact that the defence force had to be deployed to quell the violence is a crying shame. Domestic crime should be policed by the SAPS; the fact the police chief Khehla Sitole has been completely absent in the chaos is telling.

It is understandable that communities would want to protect themselves when the state breaks down. It is hard to judge those residents of KwaZulu-Natal who took to the streets in defence of their own lives and livelihoods.

The events of 12 July 2021 are a horrific indictment on the ANC's misrule of over a decade. The party that allowed Zuma and his cronies to loot and plunder the state for many years has been left with no option but to use force against thousands of mobsters who imitated his actions in the wake of his inevitable imprisonment.

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
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.