IN THE past Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and prominent church leaders of the day would have called for a national day of prayer to rid SA of the anger that, arguably, is the cause of the violence that regularly shocks SA.
At a subliminal level, the violence reflects a simmering discontent.
Let us take this step by step. Seven human beings handcuffed another human being to a vehicle, started the vehicle and drove it forward, dragging the victim along, his body hitting the ground in wracking bumps. This is what policemen publicly did to Mido Macia, a Mozambican who worked as a taxi driver in SA.
Commentator Vuyo Mbuli made an insightful comment on radio last week, when he remarked: "Could not just one of the seven police say, this is not right and I will not be part of it?"
I then recall the determined faces in the brutalisation of Andries Tatane in Ficksburg, or the killings, by both miners and police, at Marikana.
Obviously something is tearing into the soul of black SA. Needless to say, Macia died in police cells from multiple injuries — a most horrific way to die.
His death, that of Tatane, the killings at Marikana, the destruction of property in various protests by residents across the country, the murder of police and, above all, the rampant destruction and mayhem that accompanies marches by labour are symptoms of a bigger problem — angry black South Africans. This anger gushes out in protests by labour or residents, xenophobic attacks or the senseless slaughters by the police or of the police.
In discussions with people, I get a sense that inequality in society runs in deep rifts and is one of the major causes of the anger. Yes, poverty and unemployment hurt, but the widening inequality between them and former neighbours and comrades who have become overnight millionaires does not go down well.
To crown it all, it is often accompanied by an obscene and wanton display of opulence — eating sushi off women’s bellies, luxury homes for cash, importing expensive cars, expensive drinks in cigar clubs, the jaunts by the new mink-and-manure class, etc.
In the heyday of the struggle, activists compared the affluence in white areas to the deprivation in black areas and shouted "equality for all" as they organised for the African National Congress, the Pan Africanist Congress or the Black Consciousness Movement. Close to 20 years into democracy, equality is still elusive and instead, the faces of the jockeys are new, black and familiar. This then becomes the angry discussion in predominantly black areas. The fact that many black entrepreneurs identified opportunities, took the associated risks and succeeded or went south, is lost in the emotions. It is this sense of betrayal that is running deep in black communities. We all know it but bury our heads in the sand and provide all sorts of excuses.
Unfortunately, as the sense of self-worth that should have come with democracy has been delayed, the volcano that is the black community will continue to spew lava in the form of the violence we see daily. This weapon worked against the apartheid government and is still the only real weapon, as most blacks will simply not countenance a change of government, and see the Democratic Alliance as an extension of the past.
Thus, we desperately need this national day of prayer. But, it should not only be about the anger, it must also be about the offerings in the Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordination Commission. This national infrastructure rollout programme, worth a whopping R4-trillion, can create viable and vibrant black businesses in black communities. This will reduce the anger; people will feel their areas are a priority on the agenda.
When communities are themselves creators of wealth, they start seeing themselves in a new light. Empirical evidence has shown that the assets that communities control determine their sense of worth. The wealthy Bafokeng community outside Rustenburg is a case in point. And people proud of themselves do not express themselves in frequent outbreaks of violence or destroy facilities that serve them, such as libraries.
• Mazwai is resident executive at the Wits Business School and also consults on small business and enterprise development.