EDITORIAL | Keep the knee-jerk racism as well as the looters at bay
As people start feeling threatened, their latent prejudices come to the fore. This does no-one any good
True character quickly rises to the surface when humans are under pressure. Durban residents this week set up community checkpoints to protect themselves from violent looters. It quickly spiralled into an “us and them” situation, eclipsing what was probably a well-intended, spontaneous reaction driven by fear and lack of faith in the police to keep them safe. But it has already started revealing a much more disturbing side of our psyche.
Some areas of KwaZulu-Natal are in the midst of food and fuel shortages after riots swept through the province. People have been scrambling to find basic foodstuffs. Hundreds of people spent hours in snaking queues on Thursday morning when shops reopened. Some neighbourhoods took the law into their own hands, only allowing residents to shop at stores located in their suburbs. In the north of Durban, people were informed they would only be allowed into certain supermarkets with proof of address and their IDs. The proof of address system is nothing less than a disguised pass law system. As well as being illegal, these actions hark back to the dark ages of segregation.
eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said only the police had the power to set up roadblocks. He believed WhatsApp messages inciting violence against Indian and white communities had fuelled fear and prompted residents to put initiatives in place to protect themselves. He said he himself was stopped at such a roadblock. ..