More than 20 people have died since the latest outbreak of xenophobic violence in Gauteng last week.
This is too big a price for anyone to pay - especially for African brothers and sisters accused of being foreigners on their own continent.
This poses a major challenge for the character of our democracy as well as a test of the capacity of our security apparatus to uphold the rule of law within the context of a human rights culture.
That said, the police promise they will root out those behind the violent crimes - including the rapists and murderers behind the bloodletting and pillaging.
Godspeed, we say.
We also hope the panel set up by President Thabo Mbeki to establish what sparked the carnage will help our nation tackle its underlying causes.
Meanwhile, we think it would not be amiss to note that the anarchy points to lack of political leadership.
How else does the ruling ANC tripartite alliance explain the fact that the violence is happening in areas from which it draws significant support?
How do they reconcile the scenes of violence with their own system of values based on human rights?
Where, indeed, are the local branches of the ANC that are supposed to propagate its values in those areas?
Whatever happened to the message of black solidarity that once galvanised the black consciousness movement?
Where is the pan-Africanist movement with its message of a borderless Africa for the Africans, both at home and abroad?
Where, dare we ask, is the voice of the IFP in the hostels, its strongholds that are also embroiled in the violence?
Where are the indunas who are supposed to provide traditional leadership in the hostels?
Dare we say that it is such traumatic and difficult times that often produce real leaders, ones who are prepared to act decisively and with insight when circumstances require them to do so.
For how long will mother Africa continue to be the anguished witness to perennial strife that invariably produces killing fields drenched in the blood of her own children.