Chaotic scenes unfolded in a number areas in and around Durban this week. Photo: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency (ANA)
Chaotic scenes unfolded in a number areas in and around Durban this week. Photo: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency (ANA)

Dear President Cyril Ramaphosa, KZN is in turmoil and it’s time to declare a state of emergency

By Opinion Time of article published Jul 14, 2021

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Dear President Ramaphosa,

The province of KZN is in turmoil. The impact of the apparently systematic plot to undermine the stability of the state is unravelling and there is no de-escalation of ‘anarchy’ after five days of mayhem.

Not only is there widespread looting of shops, supermarkets and warehouses, but factories, water and electricity supplies and other infrastructure are being destroyed.

Such economic sabotage and its concomitant violence are allegedly aimed at undermining your leadership, in particular, and our government in general, by bringing our country to its knees.

This trajectory of lawlessness and criminality is inducing pain, hardship, fear, anger, enmity and re-racialisation fuelled by conditions generated by our unfortunate history.

The role of the state in any society should be, amongst other things, to create conditions for peaceful coexistence, to protect life and property and importantly, in our case, to uphold the Constitutional rights of all citizens - something that is being denied to us under present conditions.

The dignity promised to us in the Constitution is negated when looting continues with impunity, suggesting to the world that South Africans lack dignity, and when law abiding citizens cower with fear and anxiety in their own homes. People are being attacked in their homes.

This is something that is not reported widely in the media because of the spectacle created by mobs looting massive business premises in full view of police who seem unable and/or unwilling to restore law and order.

Billions have already been lost; economic recovery for many will be impossible; Brand South Africa is being demolished; the rand has begun to dive again and the spectre of afro-pessimism has again reared its head as the conservatives repeat the refrain ‘we told you so’.

Under these conditions, when normal mechanisms fail us, it is necessary to take extraordinary measures but to do so within the Constitutional provisions of our democratic order, to restore a semblance of the rule of law.

I implore you, Mr. President, to declare a state of emergency in KZN, as you have the power to lawfully do, so that decisive action may be taken to stop the erosion of the social fabric and end the agony experienced by responsible citizenry.

This can be done with an acute mindfulness of our apartheid history when such provisions were intended only, and wrongly, to uphold an evil racist system.

Deploy more soldiers with the capacity to act decisively, empower the police through resources and clear directives so that they can act boldly and regain the confidence of communities, and importantly arrest the masterminds behind the essentially treasonous notion of ‘reset and rebuild society from the ashes.’

Twenty-one days gives you a chance to do that.

Then, in the medium term, lead us in addressing equity producing policies that would ensure that we don’t have a repeat of this catastrophe.

I remain,

Yours sincerely,

Professor Dasarath Chetty

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