'It's an indictment. We could have handled it better': Mokonyane, Dlamini speak out on unrest deaths

Nomvula Mokonyane and Bathabile Dlamini visiting families in Soweto who lost their loved ones during the looting that took place in the township over the past week.
Nomvula Mokonyane and Bathabile Dlamini visiting families in Soweto who lost their loved ones during the looting that took place in the township over the past week.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi / The Sunday Times.

The violence and unrest which claimed more than 200 lives were an indictment of SA society and could have been dealt with more responsibly.

So says the ANC's head of organising, Nomvula Mokonyane. She made the remarks in Meadowlands, Soweto, where 10 people where found dead during widespread looting sprees.

Mokonyane visited six of the bereaved families. The youngest among those who died was a 14-year-old whose family was inconsolable. 

“We have come here to pay condolences to the beavered families but also to have an appreciation of the extent of their hurt and the pain.   

“In our culture, we say any child is my child. Most of those who lost their lives here are young people, and I think its an indictment on us as society that our young people could take such risks and end up losing their lives,” she said.

Mokonyane was alongside several members of the party, including ANC Women's League president Bathabile Dlamini. 

“We came to pay our respect to families who lost their loved ones. As Africans, it is important for us to continue with the spirit of ubuntu, share solidarity and also share their pain and difficulty.

“The families are bleeding. They are hurt, and rightfully so,” said Dlamini. 

The duo said the visits had exposed various societal ills which the government ought to urgently deal with. Among these was the scourge of unemployment. 

“What we heard from the families actually gives us a homework to then go and say, how do we get closer to young people and have programmes that will help them to be self-reliant, appreciate education and, of importance, have a government that is responsive to their needs?

“Over 70% of young people in this country are unemployed. It's a crisis we definitely have to look at,” said Mokonyane.

She and Dlamini admitted that the government could have handled the crisis better and more responsibly.

“It could have been handled better. But this is not the time to be pointing fingers, but rather to build. The lesson is that when there is something, we must all be on our toes,” Dlamini said.

“We could have dealt with the situation in a much more responsible way, but now that we are here, unity is very important. Attacks on each other will not yield any result. In the resetting of our economy, we must ensure that it is our young people and women who also stand to benefit – not only in business, but also a wake-up call to this country,” said Mokonyane.

The bereaved families were expected to be given psychosocial support. 

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