Deadly xenophobic violence breaks out following “fake food” reports

According to EWN Deputy President David Mabuza has warned xenophobes that frustration with foreign owned shops does not give them the right to loot.

This comes a day after four* were killed during violent protests in White City, Soweto.

During the protests shops owned by foreign nationals were looted due to reports of fake and expired goods being sold.

Times LIVE reports that some Soweto residents have rallied to the defense of foreign nationals, pleading with their neighbours for peace and helping the foreigners pack their things and get to a safer place.

A witness told the Daily Tokoloshe that the looters had knocked down walls in order to get the goods out faster, leaving nothing behind.

The response by political parties has been muted, according to The Citizen.

The ANC and EFF expressed concern over the protesters’ claims that the shops were selling expired and fake goods, while the DA called for calm and blamed the police for not doing enough to combat xenophobia.

Political analyst David Silke said that political parties’ relatively quiet response is due to how close these protests come to the next elections.

“The coming elections probably motivates the political parties towards supporting the South African residents of Soweto who are taking part in these protests. They don’t want to be seen to be supportive of the foreign nationals,” Silke told The Citizen

Meanwhile IOL reports that further raids by the City of Ekurhuleni have found bread that was being gnawed on by rats.

“About 13 shops were thoroughly inspected, 12 of which were issued with notices of intended prosecution for failure to produce a certificate of acceptability. All 12 shops were closed immediately,” said city spokesperson Themba Gadebe.

The city’s spokesman said some of the health-hazard items included meat packages with no sell-by date, illicit cigarettes, expired and rotten food and unlabeled mixed vegetables.

*Update: Times LIVE reports that a fourth body has been found.

My Take

I have to agree with Zwelenzima Vavi when he said this:

That said this is a predictable result, and the main people who are going to suffer as this carries on are the honest.

The reason being that this is an excuse by our less-than-ethical brethren to loot, and if you’re going to loot you’re going to go after the shop that has the good stuff, not the one which gave you diarrhea.

The problem the media has on this is that we all know that these stories trigger these reactions, but the media cannot not report them for fear of spurring xenophobia – because ignorance doesn’t fix the base problem of expired and rotten food.

Sadly if the media doesn’t report on the problem it doesn’t get solved, and people start talking to each other about it, and eventually you get the same riots anyway.  The media is not the only source of information that people have.

People will always believe any given secret that is being kept from them is even worse than the truth, because whatever is kept secret is left to the imagination – and our imaginations can go to very dark places.

This violence in part is down to how the ANC has eroded our trust in government over the years. Because of massive corruption and ineptitude we do not expect government to step in where it is needed, and thus we get this sort of thing happening.

The correct response should be to contact the relevant authorities, for example the National Consumer Commission, but if we don’t trust them to do anything it is a problem.

That said what we’re seeing now is the innocent suffering for the guilty, it is not justice and it makes a bad situation worse.

Throughout the ages we have evolved various court systems precisely because we recognise that our emotions run high and without rules and procedures we will simply punish the easy scapegoat rather than the guilty.

The solution to corruption and ineptitude in our government is not to abandon the rule of law, but to hire a more honest and competent government.

2019 is coming. Sure we may end up getting conned again by a different crop of crooks, but if we abandon loyalty and vote out those who betray us in election after election eventually we can have a clean government that can make this sort of thing something we tell our grandchildren about.

If we look at science, science is a lot like how our form of government is supposed to work. We try something, and if it doesn’t work, we try something else. Our theories and models do not give us Truth with a capital T, but over time we move away from falsehood as each error gets tested and tested again.

Thanks to that we went from flight being impossible, to having infrastructure on Mars.

Democracy will never give us Utopia, but if we pay attention to what works and what doesn’t, we can get better than we have right now.

And this is for all of us, we are one nation. That is not a call for unity, the naysayer plays an important role in keeping us grounded, a multiplicity of ideas and arguments play a role in giving us options and fostering creative thought, but it is a call for us to consider each other not as enemies but as compatriots.

We may not agree, but when we fight for our neighbours and they fight for us, we do better than when we are fighting our neighbours.

We can beat the conditions that create xenophobia, but we have to do it. Nobody else can, it is for us to make the changes required.

2019 is coming.


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