Healing the rift
“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.