OPINION* It was not in the least bit surprising there was a negative reaction to that horrifying picture on the front page of the Sunday Times this week showing an immigrant, Emmanuel Sithole, being stabbed to death by a xenophobic South African.
Frankly, the Sunday Times did precisely the right thing by bringing this tragedy right into the homes of South Africans, many of whom most likely believed xenophobia happened somewhere else and it was something that would just go away in time – like it supposedly did in 2008. Clearly it didn’t
In my opinion, the mass media in South Africa needs to take the gloves off in the fight against xenophobia just as some of them did in the fight against Apartheid.
The usual rules that govern media behaviour need to be revisited because South Africa is now at war, not only with a xenophobic enemy within its own borders but with growing anarchy among those who are tired of being let down by politicians and their broken promises.
Not only do our media need to highlight the incidences of xenophobia but also more importantly, start exposing the myriad causes of this phenomenon.
The most obvious of which is the penchant for vote-catching politicians to say things that promote a growing sense of entitlement among the ‘have-nots’.
Even the most cursory look back at statements, actions, lack of actions and turning of blind eyes by politicians over the past few years will show any number of examples of how the unskilled, uneducated and jobless masses of this country feel so convincingly entitled to free housing, free electricity, free water, free education, free this, free that, the right to take from those who have and the right to kill.
The mere fact that our governing party did not immediately and publicity take the Zulu king to task when his followers and the mass media understood him quite clearly to suggest that foreigners should pack their bags and go home, is just one example of how our political leaders have failed us. President Jacob Zuma’s son Edward said he “fully agreed” with the king’s sentiments that foreigners should “leave the country”.
The denialists among them need to be exposed and taken to task.
The Sunday Times showed that the media is capable of drawing attention to the crisis and ensuring action is taken. I have no doubt it will follow-up by reporting the court case following the arrest of those who cold bloodedly murdered that innocent immigrant on Saturday.
The Times yesterday reported on their first appearance in court and reported on how the accused laughed at the dead man’s family.
That made me mad. Quite rightly. I hope it made lot of people mad.
Because law-abiding, good citizens of this country are at war and for once in our lives we simply cannot afford to bury our heads in the sand because if this scourge gets out of hand, it will kill this country.
Frankly, I get really irritated when politicians, organisations and business are quoted as condemning xenophobia. I get frustrated when I see marches being organised to protest xenophobia. I get even more annoyed when I see newspaper reports aimed at the culprits pointing out how South Africans and South African companies is in the rest if Africa are beginning to feel retaliation.
I am pretty sure those heartless morons who are attacking foreigners in South Africa don’t take any notice of marches and public condemnations. They don’t give a hoot about how their actions might be impacting on South Africans abroad.
They don’t care about anything but their own misguided sense of entitlement. Their own misguided sense of being able to do what they like without fear of retribution.
And small wonder they feel so confident because of the hundreds of immigrants killed in xenophobic attacks since 2008, only one single South African has been convicted and jailed. The media needs to step up to the challenge of forcing our political leaders to do more, much more, to stop this killing.
And not just by sending in the army but also by looking at the root causes, such as entitlement, and to ensure that no one in this country is above the law.
Yes, one can understand the frustration of those who have been let down so badly by false promises. Yes, we can understand why there are so many service delivery protests.
But we cannot condone killing as a solution.
Unfortunately with the 2016 local elections in the offing, politicians will step up their litany of false promises.
The mass media in this country needs to ensure that our political leaders are held accountable for continued anarchy and xenophobia. And to continue doing what the Sunday Times did and present clear evidence of attacks.
They must put pressure on their pro-government peers, particularly the SABC, because the tragedy of mass media communication in this country is that 60% of the population of this country have no other sources of information other than SABC radio and television.
And we simply cannot continue to allow two thirds of our population to be hoodwinked into believing that everything in this country is as rosy as our leaders would have them believe.
There is nothing rosy about South Africa right now. Nothing. And I’m a born optimist.
* Opinions expressed in posts published on The Media Online are not necessarily those of Wag the Dog Publishers or the editor but contribute to the diversity of voices in South Africa.
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