Fury and senseless death from Joburg to Kampala

Sunday September 8 2019



Bernard Tabaire

Bernard Tabaire 

By Bernard Tabaire

From Johannesburg to Kampala, the headlines have been ugly recently.
In South Africa, riots have broken out and foreigners have been attacked. When you hear the word foreigners, you may think it is people from another continent. No, it is fellow Africans whose businesses and lives are being trashed. Not that it is okay to attack foreigners from a different continent.
South Africa seems to go through these episodes at intervals, but that can’t make them normal. I have no clue how to stop a recurrence of this so-called ‘Afrophobic’ attacks, better known as xenophobic attacks. My surface take is that a lacklustre South African economy is leaving many without jobs, or meaningful jobs, and the frustration of the “natives” often boils over into attacks against Nigerians and whoever else that is from the other countries of the continent.
Reuters news agency reported on Thursday that economic weakness is lingering about.
“South Africa’s trade balance swung to a deficit in the second quarter, while the current account deficit widened.
“The economy grew more than forecast in the same period but it had contracted sharply in the previous three months, and the heads of two local financial firms said on Thursday that a meaningful recovery was years away.”
If a meaningful recovery is years away, what is a South African to do in the present? Certainly not raging against fellow Africans hustling for a living, getting to the point of killing them. Better to ask hard questions of their government, which is struggling with state capture and its consequences — a situation allowed to develop by their own leaders. Grand corruption simply can never be a good thing for a society.
The tragedy is that some Africans are essentially trapped. Many are having to brave so much to go to the West, especially Europe, to find what they consider a rewarding life. They are dying on the Mediterranean. Those who choose to tough it out on the continent now seem to encounter the same fate: being killed in a place like South Africa. You stay you die. You go you die.
In Kampala, you don’t even need to cross the borders to die. You can be a young person, gainfully employed, and still get your skull cracked as happened nearly two weeks ago to NGO worker Maria Nagirinya.
The woman was kidnapped right in front of her gate and later murdered alongside another person, a man who was driving her home that night.
The family’s tragedy is that the police posts and stations they reported to that night were not helpful. They acted as though they were dealing with a petty crime, such as the snatching of a phone. The potential gravity of the matter does not seem to have registered or, if it did, they figured they could do nothing about it. Maybe, like mortuary attendants, they have seen so much they are inured to it. Maybe it was just the usual incompetence and negligence that has got the population quite alienated from the police and several other State authorities.
Of course the police can always rehabilitate its less-than stellar image. In this case, it should make public the findings of its investigations as to why there was no sense of urgency in trying to find Maria and potentially save her life.
Plus, how about publishing the relevant standard operating procedures to let wananchi know the minimum they should expect from the police when they report a crime such as kidnap or murder.
It is unacceptable that distraught relatives reporting a kidnap at a police post at the witching hour of 3am should be sent to another police post or station. If the initial police post has no capacity, the officers there should simply call the bigger station and report so that the officers there can handle the matter.
If the officers at the bigger station need to see the people reporting, they should drive to the smaller police post and find them there. Otherwise, having unarmed people moving about deep in the night could see them mugged, or even killed. Double trouble.
Meanwhile, the grand old man of Zimbabwe is out. He did a lot of good and a lot of bad. Zimbabwean political history will be the judge as to which side the scale ultimately leans. Hamba kahle, Robert Gabriel Mugabe.