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Could this upheaval have taught us a lesson?

No civilised society would condone what happened last month in KZN and Gauteng during the widespread burning and looting frenzy that led to the wanton destruction of lives, goods and property.

The fiery rage has left scores of bereaved families reeling under the pain of having lost loved ones during the upheavals.

An estimated 300 people were reportedly killed during these riots, leading to the blockade of several main roads and the torching of road freight trucks.

Sadly, shops and malls were also looted, causing millions in damages.

And now that the whole destructive fracas seems to have finally died down and no further incidents of burning or looting have been reported by the police, it looks like we’re gradually beginning to get back to the abnormality that has shaped our lives since the advent of Covid-19 in March 2020.

Those among us who understand politics better than most believe the next best thing left for the powers that be is to clean up the mess and begin the process of reconstruction and reconciling the divided and wounded communities.

Well, sadly for those who used the political turbulence to temporarily enrich themselves by joining the looting brigade, the thrill did not last. The SAPS, on the other hand, also had a field day going around and knocking on people’s doors and demanding they surrender their stolen loot.

Viewers watched on television in awe as looted goods ranging from clothing to groceries, household furniture, building materials, were soon recovered by the police and suspects arrested.

Katlehong SAPS confirmed the 30 people linked to the recovery raids in homes around different parts of Kathorus as well as at the Nguni hostel in Vosloorus appeared in the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Courts on charges of theft.

The destructive events have undoubtedly rattled the nerves of big businesses in the townships. Meanwhile, many locals believe the looting temporarily enriched many “skelms” who are driven by greed and an opportunist entrepreneurial mindset.

They believe in the traditional old adage that “birds nest with the feathers of other birds”.

But, perhaps, in hindsight, the real losers during last month’s week-long events are the thousands of consumers who soon woke up to the fact that they they had no spaza shops, no shopping complexes or malls.

Basic necessary commodities were no longer available on the empty shelves.

The riots squeezed the life out of what was left of small businesses in the townships and plunged many head-first towards their now imminent demise, while others were dislodged out of their “comfort zones”.

Remember, not many could afford the luxury of being insured.

Could there have been a better way to deal with this?

The SAPS has come under severe fire from different corners of society for doing what comes naturally to them: arresting thieves and recovering stolen goods.

But there are those who accuse the police of hard-handedness while dealing with hundreds of people whose homes were raided during the recovery of looted goods.

Several residents of the Nguni Hostel in Vosloorus accused the police and members of the army of “stealing” from the residents during the recovery operation.

Critics lambast the police for what they claim is the SAPS’s over-zealous quest to maintain law and order, while riding roughshod over the needs of the poor.

Public opinion is that the police should not have even bothered to recover the stolen groceries from the poor.
Without a doubt, we all seem to have bumped our heads against the wall with this one.

Let us also hope and pray the riots and its aftermath will not create a wedge in the relationship between the police and the community. Also remember that none of the recovered goods belongs to the SAPS, but to the insurance companies.

Community members believe some of the recovered loot should be donated to charity organisations.

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