SA’s vicious cycle of vandalism recurs


Service delivery protests. File photo

PRETORIA, (CAJ News) – THE tendency by some radical elements within South African society to shoot themselves in the foot is rearing its ugly head again.

This time, it could have deadly consequences as the country battles the worst outbreak of the coronavirus in the continent.

Infrastructure has been destroyed, particularly in the capital city, Pretoria, as agitated communities protest over insufficient water supplies.

By this action, protesters are oblivious of the fact that by destroying water infrastructure, they are worsening the situation, as, without this machinery, the problem will take longer to resolve.

It is the latest episode in a vicious cycle so synonymous with South African communities.

The trend usually culminates in protesters destroying infrastructure during service delivery strikes.

Should the issue be addressed, the communities are left without viable infrastructure, which again triggers more strikes.

This trend also contributes to the emptying of state coffers as the government is ever forced to repair wantonly damaged infrastructure.

“Therefore, destruction of the water infrastructure will exacerbate the water shortage challenges which the department is working hard to address,” the Department of Water and Sanitation stated.

Tragically, by destroying water infrastructure and subsequently delaying the restoration of supplies of the precious liquid, the striking communities in the capital city are indirectly exposing themselves to the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19).

This as one of the most effective ways proven to curtail the spread of the virus is the regular washing of hands.

At the time of publication, South Africa had confirmed 452 529 cases and 7 067 deaths.

The Department of Water and Sanitation has condemned the destruction of water infrastructure by violent protesters.

The vandalism is also detrimental to saving the economy ravaged by the COVID-19.

“Potable water necessary for the sustenance of the citizens and the economy of the country is gushing through some streets of the CBD (central business district), going to waste,” the department stated.

The vandalism of infrastructure during the COVID-19 crisis has not spared the crisis-torn education sector.

Angie Motshekga, the Basic Education Minister, said almost all provinces were currently repairing schools that were burgled during the national lockdown.

Some 1 718 schools across the country were affected.

In some instances, burning tyres were used to set some schools on fire.

“It is disturbing that the criminals continue to cause havoc in our schools,” Motshekga said.

Analysts have attributed the trend of vandalism to South Africa’s history of violence – dating back to the era of apartheid.

“Our people have this deep-seated belief that thuggery is a solution to every grievance they face,” a Johannesburg-based social commentator said.

Apart from so-called service delivery protests, vandalism has been a common feature in sporadic attacks against foreign nationals, or even at sporting events where fans at times express outrage over poor performances by their teams.

Some excellent stadia built for the momentous soccer World Cup in 2010 have not been spared the outrage.

– CAJ News

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