Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Violence in South Africa

There is trouble in South Africa.  Some South Africans seems to be attacking foreigners recently.   There have been violence on the streets.  A number of people have been killed.  Many foreigners are fleeing the country.  Some are saying it started with some labor trouble involving foreigners in March.  

Today I read about a man, Mozambican Emmanuel Sithole, being savagely attacked in Alexandra township near Johannesbourg. He died later in a hospital.  His attack was photographed and splashed on newspapers.  That caught my attention particularly.  

I was in Johannesburg last December.  I went to a conference near Cape Town and later went to Johannesburg to meet with some friends and to explore possible service-learning projects.  I actually stayed in Sandton for 2 days, just a couple of kilometres away from Alexandra, although I never set foot in Alexandra.  I remember jogging on West Street and Rivonia Road.  I remember eating on Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton.  Sandton is said to be the new financial and business centre of Johannesburg. Many corporate offices and hotels have moved from downtown Johannesburg over here.  I felt totally safe walking around, watching people shopping, students coming out of their schools, taking the buses, people going into and coming out of the train station, going shopping.  There were both blacks and whites.  Nobody bothered anybody else.

I went downtown Joburg (Johannesburg).  It was a bit chaotic.  But people seemed to be just doing their daily business.  I did not feel particularly unsafe, although I did stay away from places with a lot of people.

I even went to Soweto, notorious for protests and violence during the Apartheid days.   I went there partly to pay homage to Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu, who both lived there.  In December it was tranquil.  The streets were clean.  New businesses and restaurants were opening, although there were still a lot of poorly constructed houses and sheds.  There were some tourists and everybody seemed calm and peaceful.  I had a beer on the street next to Mandela’s house.  

Now this. Why?  What for?  It is so senseless.  

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