Don’t let looters and racists in and outside of South Africa succeed in getting us to refocus away from the failed insurrection, writes Neeshan Balton, the Executive Director of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation.
In mid-July 2021, South Africa had to deal with the worst possible attack on its democratic, constitutional order since 1994. It witnessed almost a week of mayhem – the loss of lives, extensive looting of businesses, violence and massive damage to economic infrastructure in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
It is a widely held view that this was carried out by supporters of former President Jacob Zuma, after his imprisonment for failing to co-operate with the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture. It appears that the chaos unleashed across the two populous provinces was aimed at forcing the judiciary and President Cyril Ramaphosa to release or pardon the former President.
Information that has emerged in the aftermath of the violence and looting appear to support the idea that the instigators of this anarchy had intentions to render the country ungovernable. They must bear the responsibility for the tragic loss of three hundred and thirty-seven lives and the costly damage to private and public property. They were prepared to sacrifice the lives of the poor and destroy the regional economy of KwaZulu-Natal for their power-grab agenda, resulting in loss of thousands of jobs in future.
The sluggish response of our police, army and intelligence services to the mayhem is beyond comprehension. And when they did react, they did so almost grudgingly, resulting in a profound loss of faith among South Africans in the structures meant to protect and serve the public at large.
Communities and business owners were left to defend themselves from the mass looting that was unleashed. Many of these efforts may not have been necessary, had the police acted timeously and adequately to enforce public order to safeguard communities and property.
Some political parties and individuals have attempted to shift the attention away from the hidden instigators of the looting and instability to issues of racism. They have sought to portray the entire Indian community as racist and being responsible for the killing of African people, particularly in the township of Phoenix in Kwazulu-Natal.
The racial narrative peddlers seek to divert attention away from the instigators of the failed insurrection. They aim to shift the focus away from the fact that the vast majority of South

Africans have rejected their sinister campaign of social and political disorder, and the call for the release of Zuma.
That communities needed to defend themselves in light of the state’s failure to do so is understandable, but it cannot come at the cost of violating the human rights of others. There certainly are individuals and security companies among the ‘Phoenix defenders’ who would need to account for their violent actions, which may have resulted in the loss of life, injury and assault to the dignity and rights of others. They appear to have gone beyond the need to defend the community and this must be strongly condemned. Such individuals should be identified, investigated and charged. There is a difference between defending communities; and vigilantism, racial profiling and stereotyping. The latter should never be tolerated.
At the same time, we should reject the insidious efforts of the Indian ultra-nationalist party, the BJP, and their band of supporters in our country, who want to present Indian South Africans as being akin to refugees in South Africa needing special protection.
The BJP does not speak on behalf of Indian South Africans. It might do so on behalf of a small group of Indians from India living here, who are not South African citizens. The BJP should not trade off the anti-apartheid work done by Indian South Africans, the majority of whom would never identify with its Hindu supremacist ideology.
It must be emphatically stated that the future and safety of Indian South Africans are intertwined and inextricably linked with that of the majority in South Africa. The BJP instead would do well to advocate against the oppression of minorities in India, who are indeed deserving of the kind of protection it has sought for Indian South Africans.
What the tragic events of the past few days reveal is that our government lacks an effective strategy to implement its much talked about National Action Plan to Combat Racism. That it took almost eighteen years after the World Conference against Racism held in 2001 in South Africa for government to adopt the National Action Plan to Combat Racism is perhaps an indicator of the lack of seriousness on its part. We urge our government to learn quick lessons from the recent events and implement a clear strategy to fight racism in our country.
It is dismaying that our people, who have been divided by centuries of colonialism and apartheid, have been left almost to themselves to find solutions to the systemic nature of racial inequality and poverty.
The effects of decades of living separately because of the Group Areas Act have not been fully understood and acted upon by government. Sadly, the social cohesion programmes that it

has promoted have lacked the depth and continuity that bridge-building programmes require with communities that have long been divided by history, geography, economics and politics.
Tackling deep-rooted divisions, racial prejudices and inequality will require consistent work over generations. It requires leadership that can bridge divides and build on the common dreams and aspirations of people from all sides. Despite the deep-rooted racial divisions of South Africa, most people yearn for a united country. The missing ingredient in making this happen is consistent and committed leadership to get the work done.
While the country will grapple possibly over many years to come with the social and economic impact of events over the last month, we should however not lose sight of the fact that the attempted insurrection did not enjoy broader public support, and therefore, failed. In the midst of all that has gone wrong, we must recognise and appreciate that ordinary people – in various instances across racial, class and other divisions – stood up together in defence our hard-won democracy.

da
Don’t let looters and racists in and outside of South Africa succeed in getting us to refocus away from the failed insurrection, writes Neeshan Balton, the Executive Director of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation.
In mid-July 2021, South Africa had to deal with the worst possible attack on its democratic, constitutional order since 1994. It witnessed almost a week of mayhem – the loss of lives, extensive looting of businesses, violence and massive damage to economic infrastructure in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
It is a widely held view that this was carried out by supporters of former President Jacob Zuma, after his imprisonment for failing to co-operate with the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture. It appears that the chaos unleashed across the two populous provinces was aimed at forcing the judiciary and President Cyril Ramaphosa to release or pardon the former President.
Information that has emerged in the aftermath of the violence and looting appear to support the idea that the instigators of this anarchy had intentions to render the country ungovernable. They must bear the responsibility for the tragic loss of three hundred and thirty-seven lives and the costly damage to private and public property. They were prepared to sacrifice the lives of the poor and destroy the regional economy of KwaZulu-Natal for their power-grab agenda, resulting in loss of thousands of jobs in future.
The sluggish response of our police, army and intelligence services to the mayhem is beyond comprehension. And when they did react, they did so almost grudgingly, resulting in a profound loss of faith among South Africans in the structures meant to protect and serve the public at large.
Communities and business owners were left to defend themselves from the mass looting that was unleashed. Many of these efforts may not have been necessary, had the police acted timeously and adequately to enforce public order to safeguard communities and property.
Some political parties and individuals have attempted to shift the attention away from the hidden instigators of the looting and instability to issues of racism. They have sought to portray the entire Indian community as racist and being responsible for the killing of African people, particularly in the township of Phoenix in Kwazulu-Natal.
The racial narrative peddlers seek to divert attention away from the instigators of the failed insurrection. They aim to shift the focus away from the fact that the vast majority of South

Africans have rejected their sinister campaign of social and political disorder, and the call for the release of Zuma.
That communities needed to defend themselves in light of the state’s failure to do so is understandable, but it cannot come at the cost of violating the human rights of others. There certainly are individuals and security companies among the ‘Phoenix defenders’ who would need to account for their violent actions, which may have resulted in the loss of life, injury and assault to the dignity and rights of others. They appear to have gone beyond the need to defend the community and this must be strongly condemned. Such individuals should be identified, investigated and charged. There is a difference between defending communities; and vigilantism, racial profiling and stereotyping. The latter should never be tolerated.
At the same time, we should reject the insidious efforts of the Indian ultra-nationalist party, the BJP, and their band of supporters in our country, who want to present Indian South Africans as being akin to refugees in South Africa needing special protection.
The BJP does not speak on behalf of Indian South Africans. It might do so on behalf of a small group of Indians from India living here, who are not South African citizens. The BJP should not trade off the anti-apartheid work done by Indian South Africans, the majority of whom would never identify with its Hindu supremacist ideology.
It must be emphatically stated that the future and safety of Indian South Africans are intertwined and inextricably linked with that of the majority in South Africa. The BJP instead would do well to advocate against the oppression of minorities in India, who are indeed deserving of the kind of protection it has sought for Indian South Africans.
What the tragic events of the past few days reveal is that our government lacks an effective strategy to implement its much talked about National Action Plan to Combat Racism. That it took almost eighteen years after the World Conference against Racism held in 2001 in South Africa for government to adopt the National Action Plan to Combat Racism is perhaps an indicator of the lack of seriousness on its part. We urge our government to learn quick lessons from the recent events and implement a clear strategy to fight racism in our country.
It is dismaying that our people, who have been divided by centuries of colonialism and apartheid, have been left almost to themselves to find solutions to the systemic nature of racial inequality and poverty.
The effects of decades of living separately because of the Group Areas Act have not been fully understood and acted upon by government. Sadly, the social cohesion programmes that it

has promoted have lacked the depth and continuity that bridge-building programmes require with communities that have long been divided by history, geography, economics and politics.
Tackling deep-rooted divisions, racial prejudices and inequality will require consistent work over generations. It requires leadership that can bridge divides and build on the common dreams and aspirations of people from all sides. Despite the deep-rooted racial divisions of South Africa, most people yearn for a united country. The missing ingredient in making this happen is consistent and committed leadership to get the work done.
While the country will grapple possibly over many years to come with the social and economic impact of events over the last month, we should however not lose sight of the fact that the attempted insurrection did not enjoy broader public support, and therefore, failed. In the midst of all that has gone wrong, we must recognise and appreciate that ordinary people – in various instances across racial, class and other divisions – stood up together in defence our hard-won democracy.

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