Lost pride for Soweto
I am normally the first person to shout out how proud I am to be born and bred in Soweto. The past two weeks however have seen a drastic drop in my pride for my beloved township. I have seen how many uninformed people sensationalised the chaos which rocked Soweto, making it sound like a complete war zone where hungry Sowetan’s only choice was to attack foreign owned shops.This is far from the truth and reality which I saw on the streets of my Soweto.
I saw people; young people, most that come from fairly well-off families running rampant on the streets sharing stories about the loot they had managed to get for free. This made me feel an overwhelming sense of embarrassment to be associated with my fellow Sowetans. These foreign owned shops seem to have sprung out of nowhere, but I have never heard anyone complain before this chaos broke out.
We were all very happy to walk over to our approachable Somali shop owner and buy daily necessities at very low prices and possibly score credit when our pockets were tight. However, when the time came to protect him and guys who operated stores just like him, an angry mob of looters all turned a blind eye and even went as far as helping ourselves to some of his stock.
This has cast a very dark cloud on the township which has built a reputation of having very friendly people. We took to blaming Somalians for unemployment, for stealing our girlfriends and even for not being able to progress in the world of small business.
How can one person who owns a spaza shop on the corner of your street be responsible for so many things going wrong in your life?
The sad thing about this looting chaos has been the loss of lives. At least seven people have been killed as a direct result of looting or from retaliation of the crime. Are we minimalizing the chaos? Are we prepared for a possible escalation of violence?
If this situation gets out of hand it is very clear that more people could lose their lives. I still remain disappointed in the manner in which our police force dealt with the situation. I saw how under equipped and under prepared they were for the situation, which meant that more damage was done.
After the first day of looting, I feel that police officers needed to be briefed properly on what to do in these types of situations. Even police officers were implicated in the looting after community members released footage of cops helping themselves to stock.
I ask myself whether we are fooling ourselves in thinking that we are a society that is working together for change or are we all just wolves in sheep skin.