Shrinks offer their services to victims of trauma

Foreign nationals try to save their belongings after their shacks were set alight by alleged looters at Marabastad, near the Pretoria Central Business District (CBD) in Pretoria, South Africa on September 2, 2019, during widespread attacks on foreign nationals and looting of their shops. (Photo by Phill Magakoe / AFP)

‘We cannot solve the problem (of xenophobic violence) without looking deeper at the causes. As PsySSA, will are willing to help this nation to heal.’

A body of psychologists has offered their skills to help South Africans involved in past and present conflicts, including xenophobic violence, to heal.

Psychological Society of South Africa (PsySSA) said there was a need to look at the causes of current xenophobic violence and to find a lasting solution.

All those involved, including the community, government and victims, should be at the centre of any effort to find a solution to the conflict.

“We need to heal from the wounds of the past and look at the causes of the current xenophobic violence and find lasting solutions with communities involved,” said Saths Cooper, former president of the PsySSA.

Cooper said they were shocked to see that the xenophobic violence was allowed to continue without anyone doing anything substantial to resolve it. Instead of abating, the scourge was escalating to claim more lives and inflict more damage to property.

“What has been happening the last fortnight has been the lowest point in SA’s democracy. Every sector is affected, but there does not seem to be a leadership to show that everything is under control, both from the politicians and the police,” Cooper said.

He was referring to the attacks targeting foreigners by some SA residents mainly in Gauteng, with some incidents in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.

The violence is accompanied by massive looting of foreign-owned businesses and burning of property, including buildings and vehicles.

In the latest attacks on Sunday, two people were killed in Johannesburg despite efforts by some leaders – including former IFP president Mangosuthu Buthelezi – to calm down their followers.

Instead of backing down, the followers heckled the leader.

Cooper condemned the law enforcement agencies – particularly crime intelligence – for failing to detect the xenophobic violence.

“We have no effective crime intelligence that we can rely on. How do you have these gatherings where the violence was planned yet intelligence and law and order in general did not hear anything?” Cooper asked.

“We need to look at the causes, otherwise we are denying the realities that are at play. We cannot solve the problem without looking deeper at the causes. As PsySSA, will are willing to help this nation to heal,” Cooper said.

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