The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said a collaborative effort by government departments, sociologists, psychologists and itself should be initiated to tackle racism issues in the country which erupted to the surface during the July 2021 unrest.
The SAHRC this week released its report into the July 2021 unrest that sparked mass looting, violence and alleged racially motivated attacks across KwaZulu-Natal.
The Commission said the attacks against black South African people in Phoenix, Khan Road Corner informal settlement, Verulam, Chatsworth, and other areas was racially motivated.
One of the ways the Commission thought could improve levels of social cohesion, was by creating a national identity that could help overcome racial barriers and prevent future disasters from happening.
“A collaborative effort should be initiated between the Commission, government departments, sociologists, and psychologists to devise and test proposals that tackle systemic racism and cultivate a unified national identity.
“This identity should aim to explore innovative approaches to address racism and prevent future racial violence as a response to the tragic killings of black individuals that occurred during the unrest,” the Commission said.
The University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Professor Paulus Zulu, who testified before the Commission during its hearing in 2021, said there is no vision to end the causes of racism, economic inequality or to bring about social cohesion.
With a morally decaying government at the helm, Zulu said there wasn’t any desire to make South Africa one nation, given the fact that some police members and state security members acted along factional lines during the unrest.
“South Africa is a state, but “not a nation”. Within the state there are various groups that do not cohere, and this lack of cohesion has been a historical tool used by governments to create ungovernability or to cause unrest.
“We have not done enough as a country to address the divisive issues of race, the economy and the social fabric.
“What we, or the government, have done is facilitate the privatisation of services for those who can buy out of the state – private healthcare, private education, private security,” Zulu told the Commission.
After the attack on the informal settlement at Khan Road Corner in the Msunduzi Municipality, Roshan Jainath told the Commission he and a number of others embarked on a cohesion project.
Jainath, a resident of Raisethorpe who lives 12 kilometres away from the Khan Road Corner settlement, testified before the Commission.
Through funding from private individuals, religious groups and non-profit organisations, Jainath built homes for the residents of Khan Road Corner whose homes were burnt down.
He also engaged with provincial justice and comunity safety departments which agreed to provide support in brokering peace between the people living at Khan Road Corner and the people living in the surrounding Indian townships.