No justification for acts of violence in our country
WE must be very careful and not fall into the trap of a society that romanticises violence. Violence is ugly and barbaric; and no amount of spin-doctoring can be done to justify it – neither does diplomatic immunity justify it.
We also need to make it clear to all leaders and countries throughout the world that we reject violence in all its forms.
The recent cases involving former deputy minister of higher education and training Mduduzi Manana and Zimbabwe’s first lady, Grace Mugabe, are bad examples of how ordinary citizens, public representatives and leaders in our society should behave.
In these two cases, cordial diplomatic relations, neighbourliness and the profile of the perpetrators must never be used to condone ugly and barbaric acts of violence.
In both cases involving these high-profile leaders and/or public figures from South Africa and Zimbabwe respectively, it is apparent that physical force was used with an intention to hurt and injure the victims.
It does not matter who the victim or perpetrator/aggressor is or the colour/pigmentation of the victim or perpetrator – violence is barbaric and should be abhorred by all of us.
There is absolutely no way that we will build better societies in South Africa, Southern Africa and the continent if we continue to create an impression that we treat acts of violence in our communities with “kid gloves”; and in some cases appear to be giving special and preferential treatment to those who are associated with the ruling elite in Southern Africa.
Over the years we have mastered the art of repeating the most tired and usual lines, such as “We distance ourselves from any act of violence” or “We condemn any act of violence” or “We must allow due legal processes to take its course”.
It is tiring! In practice, most of us do the opposite. We consciously and unconsciously glorify and promote violence in many ways. And the amount of graphic violence on our national television, social media and other platforms is not helpful; it somehow continues to perpetuate acts of violence in many ways.
I am of the view that if we need the world to take us seriously as a country, we need to collectively set very high standards for ourselves and communicate these standards to the rest of the world without fear or favour.
It will also not be very helpful if we continue to condemn violence without doing anything practical to move towards a violence-free society.
Some of the practical steps we could initiate in our communities are to refuse and reject to be led by any community leaders, public representatives and political party leaders who have an endemic history of violence and are known associates of criminals and thugs.
Our violent past cannot be used as an excuse for us to fail to aggressively act against any acts of violence.
The rank, profile, social status, race and gender of the victims and perpetrators must never deter us from moving towards the creation of a normal society as espoused by Black Consciousness Movement founding father Steve Biko.
LESEGO SECHABA MOGOTSI, MEMBER OF AZAPO COMMITTEE ON PUBLICITY AND INFORMATION