Editorials 19.8.2016 05:01 am

Lawlessness takes SA to brink

Image by: Daylin Paul

Image by: Daylin Paul

Aggrieved citizens and workers opt to destroy property and spill blood, instead of exercising their constitutionally protected rights, such as peaceful protests and industrial action.

Total disregard for the law in this country has reached such alarming proportions that even those who are supposed to uphold it are themselves often caught on the wrong side of it.

Newspapers, on a daily basis, publish disturbing stories of top bureaucrats, politicians and even police officers breaking the same laws they are meant to be upholding.

When those in positions of authority and those who are supposed to know the law are not exemplary, it is just a matter of time before the entire society becomes mutinous. This is precisely the disturbing state SA finds itself in – respect for the law has completely vanished.

The anarchy unfolding in Vuwani, where community members frequently shut down their town – by going on the rampage with no regard at all for the law, and torching dozens of schools – best underscores the dangers of lawlessness.

Vuwani is not an isolated incident. There’s not a single week that passes without a public building being vandalised somewhere by mobs claiming to be disgruntled by the lack of the delivery of services from their municipality.

Vigilantism and incidents of mob justice are fast gaining popularity. Desperate citizens gang up to hunt down, set alight or bludgeon to death criminals whom they accuse of terrorising their communities. These activities are among the cocktail of tragic incidents that highlight how citizens have lost respect for authority.

Lawlessness is prevalent even in labour strikes. Yesterday, Telkom offered half-a-million rands reward to anyone with information that could lead to the arrest of saboteurs who targeted the company’s facilities. It is suspected the company’s striking employees hit Telkom’s facilities in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

It is an act that robbed thousands of people of their landline and internet services. The company is convinced the sabotage is that of criminals on Telkom’s payroll who knew exactly what they were doing.

Aggrieved citizens and workers opt to destroy property and spill blood, instead of exercising their constitutionally protected rights, such as peaceful protests and industrial action. It is a spine-chilling indication that South Africa is on a dangerous precipice.

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