In the wake of the release of former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report, the documented brigandage of EFF members in their rampage through the streets of Pretoria showcase the underlying violence and complete disregard for the rights of others in many South African protests.
Simply put, every citizen has the right to protest. But none has the right to looting and outright thuggery. It is fine to show loud vocal displeasure, but it is absolutely something else to break windows, rob bottle stores along the way or throw a petrol bomb – no matter how ineffective this proved – at the statue of Paul Kruger regardless of how strongly you believe it to be the image of black oppression.
The violent lawlessness of the few, which overrode the majority in the hijack of the #FeesMustFall campaign and the arrogance of the so-called student leaders gave rise to an impression that might is right.
This is a misconception of malignant dimensions in a country that prides itself in being a democracy.
If unbridled violence is allowed to become a permanent part of the fabric of social protest, the long-term security – and, indeed sanity – of this nation is at serious risk.