POLITICS

A Weekend Of Intolerance And Violence, From Soccer Hooligans And Anti-Drug Campaigners to Government Giggles

Is the intolerance surprising after the example set by Parliament at the State of the Nation Address?

12/02/2017 08:00 SAST | Updated 12/02/2017 13:27 SAST
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Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema posted on Twitter this picture of himself being evicted from the National Assembly by parliamentary security during the State of the Nation Address on Thursday night. "The bastard is squeezing my balls yeses, they always go for my balls this white shirts.They do this all the time, hai," wrote Malema in the tweet. The government laughed at it.

Two incidents of public violence over the weekend — a brawl on the pitch by soccer fans and the burning down of houses believed linked to drug dealers — further illustrate South Africans' growing intolerance and willingness to resort to violence to make a point.

The weekend violence followed the Thursday evening brawl in Parliament, where politicians showed the nation on live TV that they, too, could not resolve their differences without violence; and in an astonishing social media disaster, the official government Twitter account issued a tweet (hastily deleted) laughing at the parliamentary violence.

On Saturday afternoon, soccer fans aggrieved that their team was losing invaded the pitch. Kickoff reported that Orlando Pirates suffered their "worst ever" PSL defeat in a 6-0 loss to Mamelodi Sundowns at Loftus Versveld Stadium in Pretoria and, when Sundowns scored the sixth goal, the "irate Buccaneers supporters invaded the pitch and clashed with Sundowns fans, resulting in several injuries. Play was stopped for more than an hour before the last eight minutes were played," said Kickoff, calling it "one of the worst incidents of fan violence in recent PSL history". Pirates are likely to be fined over the behaviour of their fans.

Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images
Orlando Pirates supporters on the rampage during the Absa Premiership match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on February 11, 2017 in Pretoria.

The Citizen reported that the teams had to flee. "With security over-run, the players had to flee for their lives as violent scenes broke out across the stands and on the field," reported The Citizen. "There have been pictures of injured and bloodied supporters, while teargas has been used and television broadcasting equipment destroyed."

Burning houses

On Saturday evening, in Rosettenville in Johannesburg, houses were burnt in an anti-crime protest.

News24 reported police as saying that at least 10 houses believed to belong to drug lords and brothel owners were set alight. "None of those homeowners laid any criminal charges, but police were investigating incidents of malicious damage to property and public violence," reported News24.

Hours before the Rosettenville violence, the Saturday Star reported that DA mayor of the City of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba, promised action against drug-related activities and said he was concerned that residents would turn to vigilantism to deal with the growing drugs problems.

"It scares me people are that desperate they would take the law into their own hands and risk being criminals themselves," Mashaba told the newspaper on Friday.

The Saturday Star reported that Lenasia resident Fathima Odendaal was so frustrated by police indifference she was prepared to take the law into her own hands and kill the drug dealers who are supplying her family with narcotics.

"I'm ready to attack these drug dealers with hand grenades and petrol bomb their homes," she told the Saturday Star. "I've gone the legal route and I've seen there's no justice. We are either too poor or too ugly to get any sort of justice."

Parliamentary intolerance

The incidents follow the example of intolerance set by politicians at the annual opening of Parliament on Thursday night, when President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address (Sona) was disrupted by opposition parties the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the Democratic Alliance (DA), leading to a violent brawl in the National Assembly when parliamentary security the "white shirts" evicted the EFF; the DA then walked out. MPs swore and insulted each other.

The Huffington Post South Africa reported on the Sona violence, including with a video, and the speech.

There was violence towards women in the brawl and, almost worse, it was apparently condoned by people who should have known better.

And afterwards, the government's official Twitter account mocked EFF leader Julius Malema, who claimed in a post on Twitter that he was assaulted by parliamentary security, with the government account retweeting Malema's comments and adding "Hahahahaha". Disgusted Twitter users retweeted the government's tweet, with criticism.

The government deleted the tweet — which had already been retweeted — and apologised, claiming it was a "mistake".