Glaring double standards

South Africa is still reeling from the shocking and horrific scenes of violent rioting, looting, arson and other destruction of property in mostly KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

Most of the videos and pictures came via social media, the mainstream media unable to keep up with the sheer volume of footage being shared on WhatsApp and Facebook.

Such is the digital age, with people across the world instantly aware of what is happening in another country.

The number of people involved in the anarchy was staggering. This was not a small criminal element, it looked like entire communities had flooded malls and shopping centres and were ransacking every shop, carrying out big screen TVs, fridges, microwaves, clothing and groceries.

Helicopter footage provided an aerial view of one of the incidents, showing the tidal wave of humanity of the ground, moving through the parking lot of a mall.

In one 18-minute video by Siphiwe Emacous Moyo, he comprehensively detailed the looting of Shallcross Ridge Mall in Durban, moving from shop to shop and showing how people of all ages were involved, some women still dressed in their nightgowns and slippers as they participated in the free-for-all.

He spent a lot of time in the Checkers Hyper, simply because it was such a favoured target of the looters, sometimes creating their own bottleneck in the smashed entrance. He also showed the devastation in stores that had already been cleaned out.

The rioters and looters had no concerns about the national lockdown; there was no social distancing, mask-wearing or curfews as far as they were concerned.

This rampant criminality and destruction, and the government’s paltry and delayed response to it, has made a mockery of the lockdown.

Law-abiding people who own restaurants and pubs have suffered the most from the latest return to level 4. They have heeded the rules and are poorer for it. They have had to put staff on reduced hours, or laid them off.

Even being allowed to open again for sit-down meals as of Monday, restaurants are still being penalised by not being able to sell alcohol.

The government’s rationale for this makes less and less sense, and reasonable people are acknowledging this. But still, the law-abiding majority obeys the rules.

How long till we say, enough, let all businesses open, let trade resume as normal. What would government do if the law-abiding majority decided to peacefully ignore its petty and draconian rules?

– Jon Houzet

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