People across the country are going out on the streets to protest poor service delivery. There are daily reports about dissatisfaction with councillors and the national government.
This is the right and proper thing to do.
But the tendency to violence is barbaric. It is not part of the fabric of a democracy.
People have a right to protest and to strike. What is not lawful is the destruction of property that belongs to the community and, therefore, to each resident in that community.
The property does not belong to individual councillors, officials or government.
Inept councillors, corrupt officials, and greedy business can easily be removed without resorting to barbaric behaviour. They can also be exposed for their wrongdoing.
We understand that the people are angry and unhappy. The current recession has not helped matters by throwing a lot of breadwinners out of work. Hunger and fear are elements that fuel despondency.
Desperation may be fuelling the violence but the destruction of property, the stench of xenophobia that accompanies the protests, looting and burning, is criminal.
It is unacceptable that people who have a legitimate government should behave in this manner. During apartheid such behaviour was common because the people did not have the voice nor the right to petition government for anything.
The political climate has changed. Anyone who has a grievance knows what to do. The ballot box is available to voice anger and dissent.