Heal­ing the rift

Grocott's Mail - - OPINION -

“None of us ex­pected this. None of us knew it was com­ing. We had no in­for­ma­tion at all.”

Those were the words of a po­lice of­fi­cer ear­lier this week, fac­ing ques­tions from 300 peo­ple, of the many more who fled their homes and busi­nesses dur­ing last week’s loot­ing and in­tim­i­da­tion in Gra­ham­stown, A lo­cal ac­tivist says he warned the po­lice. A lo­cal politi­cian has spoke of a “third force”. We don’t know for sure what ac­tu­ally hap­pened, and who said what to who.

Like ev­ery­one we’re ask­ing why the past week’s events hap­pened – and we’ll con­tinue to look for those an­swers. But this week is not the time for blame. Peo­ple in our town were ter­rorised and are now suf­fer­ing the trauma of de­pri­va­tion, dis­place­ment and be­trayal.

We should be think­ing about how to help them sur­vive what they’re go­ing through, get back into their com­mu­ni­ties, and get their lives back. Start­ing to­day, this is a busy week­end. If we needed any re­minder of the scale and im­pact of what hap­pened here, to­mor­row’s visit to Gra­ham­stown by the hu­man rights com­mis­sion is that.

Po­lice and the Makana Coun­cil re­sponded quickly and ap­pro­pri­ately to the cri­sis.

But where ex­tra­or­di­nary things are hap­pen­ing is at the level of cit­i­zens.

Gra­ham­stown’s in­di­vid­u­als and or­gan­i­sa­tions are reach­ing out and shar­ing their resources to heal the rift that has torn out town apart.

Gro­cott’s Mail con­sid­ers our sin­gle­most im­por­tant role this week to be sup­port­ing sound lead­er­ship – what­ever quar­ter it comes from – in restor­ing sta­bil­ity and mend­ing Gra­ham­stown.

Among those are some Rhodes stu­dents who, hav­ing fought and won their bat­tle against fee in­creases, have now thrown them­selves fully into sup­port­ing and giv­ing a voice to our dis­placed neigh­bours.

Cogta – the Prov­ince’s co-op­er­a­tive gov­er­nance depart­ment – has al­most be­come a house­hold name in Gra­ham­stown be­cause of its high-level in­ter­ven­tions in our mu­nic­i­pal­ity over the past year.

In the next few months it fea­tures in a dif­fer­ent role in our re­gion – it is charged with over­see­ing initiation.

The tra­di­tional jour­ney into man­hood through ul­waluko is im­por­tant to many Gra­ham­stown fam­i­lies and we are lucky that our area is not gen­er­ally among the ter­ri­ble statis­tics of deaths and mu­ti­la­tion through in­fec­tion re­ported from other parts of the prov­ince.

What does hap­pen here far too of­ten, es­pe­cially as the weather gets hot­ter, is that chil­dren look for places to swim. It’s the sea­son when we al­ways re­ceive a few re­ports of tragic drown­ings in dams and at the beach.

If you know some­one who can’t swim, please teach them.

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