RISING TIDE OF ANARCHY
What on earth is going on in SA? Every day the news is littered with reports of criminal violence against lawabiding citizens — from petty thieves preying on people in the streets to heavily armed organised gangs killing security guards in cash heists. And the police never seem to respond in any significant way.
This lawlessness has now spread to the criminals wearing political party insignia.
This week, people wearing T-shirts bearing the colours of the EFF broke into and ransacked stores owned by Vodacom in at least three shopping malls. Despite all this being filmed, the police are yet to make a single arrest. Thugs calling themselves Black First Land First manhandle journalists and businesspeople with impunity.
For the past few weeks, I have been a silent witness to similar acts of criminality by people wearing the insignia of the EFF who terrorise small businesses and factories in the industrial heartland of Johannesburg. I have received reports and evidence of similar acts of criminality in the factories of Cape Town and Durban. In their hour of need, taxpaying entrepreneurs can’t count on the police for assistance.
The thugs start by infiltrating the workforce, promising to get workers a better deal than their trade unions do. They purport to play the role of health and safety inspectors, railroading entrepreneurs for minor infringements on the shopfloor while complaining of poor working conditions. Having turned employees against employers, they then demand payments from the entrepreneur. Any business owner who fails to pay the bribe has their plant ransacked or set on fire.
Multi Plastics Recycling in Springs and Herber Plastic in Boksburg suffered this fate last week. Dis-chem and H&M have also been hit in the past few months. Again taxpayers enjoy no protection from the state.
In the case of the terror being spread across factories in the Johannesburg area, desperate entrepreneurs have now turned to the media for help. The Gauteng government, through the safety & security MEC, is fully aware of the intimidation, as are security agencies and the police. Some firms have obtained court interdicts against the EFF, yet the violence continues.
The government has failed in its most basic duty.
Criminal protection racket
Some factories have been closed for weeks because the owners have not been able to operate in the face of the intimidation. Others have succumbed, and continue to pay what can only be termed “protection fees”.
It’s depressing to compare this lawlessness with my experiences in Morocco and Israel recently. In Casablanca I watched as 6,000 people marched peacefully in protest through the central business district, while 100 unarmed police officers and two dozen soldiers kept watch. Not a single window was broken. No rubbish bin was overturned.
Close to midnight in a street pub in Jerusalem, I saw two young men trying to solve a dispute with their fists. But they didn’t have much time — within five minutes they were bundled into police vehicles and driven away.
Back home, we should be asking ourselves what kind of society we want SA to be. Are we happy to allow thugs to abuse our constitutional democracy and parliament as they usurp power from the people?
Are we to be a society ruled by thugs who shake down entrepreneurs and citizens in broad daylight? How can we create jobs and persuade people to be active citizens who financially support their families? Have we given up on the rule of law? Who in their right mind would invest in such an environment?
I have been a silent witness to acts of criminality by people wearing the insignia of the EFF