It is sad, although not unexpected, that more than 24 years after the demise of apartheid, many people in this country are still prisoners to the artificial race definitions of those days.
So, as economically deprived coloured communities reel under the onslaught of unemployment, drugs and gangsterism, some of their leaders are rallying support behind their ethnic banner. Many coloureds feel doubly discriminated against: not white enough during apartheid, not black enough now.
And there is certainly some merit in those claims. Experts say poor people in general do not benefit from affirmative action programmes and that those who reap the fruits are generally upper middle class people. In some circles, coloureds are regarded as less deprived than Africans and therefore not deserving of any form of restitution.
The recent disturbances in Westbury began around the issues of gangsterism and drugs but are now highlighting what community leaders call an “endless cycle” of despair and poverty.
The only way to break that cycle is by upgrading those communities and by providing work opportunities for residents, which will not only boost incomes – and reduce dependence on state handouts and crime profits – but also rebuild the dignity of the people.