Proper law enforcement will stop this

Police keep order after several foreign owned shops were looted in Tembisa. violence broke out against foreigners in Gauteng and other parts of the country on 02 September 2019.
Police keep order after several foreign owned shops were looted in Tembisa. violence broke out against foreigners in Gauteng and other parts of the country on 02 September 2019.
Image: Thulani Mbele

The latest round of violence against foreign nationals, which began in Pretoria last week, spread to a number of other parts of Gauteng yesterday.

Excuses for the attacks were varied. In Pretoria, Tembisa township in Ekurhuleni and Turffontein - south of the Johannesburg CBD - rioting residents claimed that they were fighting against drug pushers.


Listen | What Police Minister General Bheki Cele plans to do about violent looting in Gauteng


Elsewhere in the province, the looters were accusing foreign nationals of setting up and operating "illegal" businesses, some even claiming that much of the criminality taking place in their neighbourhoods was driven by immigrants.

Excuses, excuses and excuses! The truth of the matter is that nothing justifies the kind of violence we have been witnessing over the past week or so. And the people behind the violence and looting know this.

But they also know that, like the drug dealers they claim to be fighting against, they will not be arrested for their criminal deeds. If they are, they are likely to be released from custody without being prosecuted, let alone being convicted.

We have had far too many episodes of this kind of violence in the country over the years and very few people have been held to account by our criminal justice system.

The law enforcement agencies, especially the police, seem ill-equipped to deal with this criminality whenever it flares up.

How do we explain the fact that the violence in the capital, Pretoria, started early last week and resulted in a number of vehicles and properties being damaged, and yet there weren't enough police yesterday to prevent Marabastad from going up in smoke?

We are encouraged to hear that police would be deploying more of their members in the two cities in a bid to restore law and order.

But had the police taken preventative measures, deploying more cops to monitor the hotspots in Pretoria and other parts of the province where there were clear signs of trouble, yesterday's mayhem would have been limited.

Our country will never win the fight against xenophobic violence without effective policing. If police do their work, which includes being tough on drug lords as well as looters, this kind of violence would be a thing of the past.

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