There is rampant pain among the families whose loved ones died as collateral damage of the carnage that started on our national roads with the burning of scores of commercial trucks.
When we hear reports that at least 330 people died in the looting and associated thuggery, we seem to see one number – 330. Yet that number represents 330 families, robbed of their loved ones because someone's conviction, somewhere in the dark corners, conceived what was to be another Marikana.
The nation is too silent. Our national flags ought to fly at half-mast and we should be in mourning. We shout and cry out more about destroyed malls than the human lives lost.
The deeds of the past few days makes the Marikana disaster the beginning of our decline. When you induce poor and vulnerable people to take advantage of your own destructive deeds, by forcibly opening doors of grocery retail shops amid poverty and unemployment and expect them to be spectators, you become complicit in luring them to their possible death through stampedes and vigilante callous killers.
Surely you can't sleep well at night? Your hands are dripping with the blood of innocent, poor people. Surely the leaders of this mayhem are not among the dead? They are basking in the sun of their stolen items, with shameless celebrations.
We used to blame other races for the pain they inflict on our people and yet when we have attained freedom, our own people became fodder for our own narrow interests. It took us just 30 years to become some of the most heartless people who seem to have become immune to the death of humanity.
In the past, when we woke up to find a corpse, we would endure endless nightmares because we knew that you are because I am. That was Ubuntu.
We have even turned our children and grandchildren into spectators to mob violence, in the name of justice that burns those we accuse of thuggery amid children’s presence, destroying in them the very essence of the humaneness necessary to turn them into future leaders who can differentiate between right and wrong. And when we see them in schools as bullies, we pretend to be shocked.
What have we become as a nation?
Insurance companies will pay for the damage done to the malls and goods but no insurance will bring back the lives lost. As our TV screens are devoid of looters and mayhem, those families are in cemeteries burying their own. There is the mayhem of strife, hunger and hopelessness and most homes will be empty forever.
We should all bow our heads in mourning for the lives lost and hope that these families find solace in knowing that some of us care.
May they rest in peace.
* Xolani Qubeka is SBDI Social Enterprise Management Corporation, managing director. He writes in his personal capacity.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL and Independent Media.