South Africa has been featured a lot in the news recently, with the Oscar Pistorius case being a prominent feature in the recent news. It’s always been known that the South African Police have heavy handed ways of dealing with trouble, but people are beginning to stand up to authority, venting their anger over the way people are treated in SA.
Graca Machel, the human rights activist and wife of Nelson Mandela said the anger sprung from “unaddressed” issues around the country’s apartheid past, adding: “We have to be more cautious about how we deal with a society that is bleeding and breathing pain”.
Her comments are seen as deeply significant as both she and her husband have previously refrained from sharing their views about how the nation is being run since he left the presidency 14 years ago.
Speaking from the memorial service of Mido Macia – the taxi driver that died in custody after being man-handled by Police, Mrs Machel’s words have been spread around the world, with people beginning to get an insight into how South Africans feel.
The incident where the taxi driver was abused is one of many cases of police brutality, and locals express their concerns over the ways that police deal with situations.
Graca Machel continued to say:
“The level of anger and aggression is rising. This is an expression of deeper trouble from the past that has not been addressed. We have to be more cautious about how we deal with a society that is bleeding and breathing pain.”
Murders, gang rapes, organized crime and corruption are all common headlines in South African news creating insurmountable levels of powerlessness fuelling daily stress and anger. Adam Habib, vice-chancellor of the University of Witwatersrand states, ” People feel that extreme violence is the only way they can get heard – and police react in an even more violent way, which is beginning to seep into the national psyche.”
This is creating a system of institutionalised violence whereby people feel so insecure by the incompetance of police authority that they feel the need to take matters into their own hands.
The government is seen as being complacent in the face of these issues. President Zuma announced that despite the recent events, it was wrong to paint his country as an “inherently violent place to live in”. I can’t imagine a statement more out of touch with reality than this one and would give any South African enough reason to be angry.