The mindless barbarism behind the escalation in the torching of schools and universities points to a deeper malaise.
The violent closure of portals of knowledge harks back to the book-burning frenzy instituted, ironically, by the German Student Union in Nazi Germany in the 1930s.
Although that senseless surge in the abyss of ignorance was focused on works by Jewish writers and academics, the same mob mentality is easily discernible, even if the incidents are separated by more than 80 years.
The major difference is that in the supposedly democratic South Africa of today, the perpetrators have taken aim at the state itself. These thugs, for there can be no other term to describe them, cause harm only to ourselves as a whole.
With this country already trapped within a growing culture of racial intolerance, the bigotry on social networks is already manifesting itself.
This was also evidenced this week by a seemingly racial confrontation on the streets of Johannesburg’s Westdene, the suburb that houses the University of Johannesburg, and points to the mutual open-mindedness inherent in the spirit of ubuntu becoming unglued.
Our citizens are feeling the fiscal bite from an economy under fire from virtually all sides, food prices escalating under the pressure of skyrocketing prices fuelled by the worst drought in decades and a rand that limps lamely in the footsteps of major international currencies.
South Africa’s battered national coinage is a sign of poor governance and weak decisions that have this country fighting to stave off the stigma of junk status and struggling to attract significant long-term investment.
The question all South Africans should be asking is, do we really need to add senseless violence as the third side of a Bermuda Triangle that, left unchecked, threatens to engulf us all?