A very serious strain of xenophobia is brewing in our country which left unchecked, WILL end in hundreds if not thousands of deaths.
Recently I attended a meeting in the South of Johannesburg hosted by a Pastor who has been struggling for the last year or so to establish his substance abuse ministry. I was asked to speak at the meeting which was arranged to rally support for his organisation. During the meeting, the loving Pastor suggested that all who had attended the meeting were “spineless cowards” and challenged all to grow some spines and join him in forcefully rooting out the “evil Nigerians” who were prospering, unpunished, from our suffering. Sadly, it’s quite obvious that the good Pastor himself is xenophobic.
When I was asked to speak, I immediately distanced myself from this vigilante mentality and suggested that the law was the only acceptable means to deal with any violation of it. I left the meeting immediately after my speech.
The warning I speak of is this; ordinary South Africans (+-15% of our population are problem drug users – UNODC 07,2010) are suffering on an epidemic scale, not because of Nigerians or any other culture, race or religion, but because our own government betrayed the people they serve by disbanding the South African Narcotics Bureau (SANAB) in 2004, and fail to address the continued cries for their reinstatement.
If narcotics and human trafficking is spreading like wildfire it is because WE HAVE NO NATIONAL DRUG ENFORCEMENT AGENCY. While we are blissfully distracted into believing that it is another nation’s fault, it is in fact our own fault. This fact is exacerbated by the shocking reality that very few traffickers and dealers are convicted. There is even a criminal defense attorney on the East Rand that I am aware of who claims a 100% no conviction success rate for all of the dealers/traffickers that he has represented. Needless to say, he’s very rich and very busy.
Our leaders and criminal justice system are failing to protect the lives of our people and have in fact enabled xenophobia, (Hellen Zille excluded) and the torment of innocent foreign nationals who are on the whole, honest and hardworking.
And that responsibility lies with all of us, because we allow it to continue.