It was Roman leader Julius Ceasar who said that “experience is the teacher of all things”. He is often misquoted as having said “experience is the best teacher”.
I’d like to put it more simply: We don’t realise how idiotic and painful our actions can be until they haunt the hell out of us.
What is currently happening in the country – arson, looting, taxi industry violence and attacks on motorists, among others – is awful, to say the least.
And those involved are short-sighted if they don’t realise that they have just destroyed the country’s economy – or contributed to its destruction.
What will follow next is the inevitable finger-pointing and cries that government doesn’t care about us or deliver essential services.
And soon those involved in the wholesale destruction will be adding their voices to the desperate calls for help. Harsh as it may seem, I feel that before we help them, we must ensure that they properly experience the impact of what they have done.
Because, to misquote Caesar again, they should learn from their experience.
As news of the rampant violence in KZN and Gauteng reached us, I have heard many people saying it was the first time they have witnessed such unrest.
For me, however, this was the second time.
I grew up in an independent state called Ciskei, led by Lennox Wongama Sebe. During the start of the change in the country, Brigadier Oupa Gqoza led the coup by the Ciskei Defence Force that dethroned Sebe.
At the outset he ruled in an exemplary manner, but later he changed and turned against his people.
He established his own smallanyana party.
And guess what happened? It was riot after riot. We were young and energetic. People ran amok, looting and destroying everything they thought was of Gqozo. Ciskei had a wealth of food schemes but they were destroyed within minutes.
So understand my context when I say that what has just happened in KZN and Gauteng is not new to me.
After the looting and destruction in Ciskei, we had to travel 60km for a box of matches or a loaf of bread. That is why I would never condone vandalism of the infrastructure that we have. I will never forget how we suffered and those who were behind that were sitting nicely at their posh houses.
But don’t get me wrong. I’m not blaming the people of KZN because they were clueless – like we were. They will never know, until they know. That is called experience.
Instead I hope that this government with an economy that fills the pockets of only a few, takes the blame.
Government should have seen that the country was sitting on the time-bomb and people have been waiting for any excuse explode the way they have in recent weeks.
But added to the looting and violence in KZN and Gauteng, the country as a whole is still battling Covid-19. The Western Cape is struggling with its transport system. The taxi industry in the province is up in arms over something that hasn’t been fully revealed to us.
Sadly, again this country is on its knees. Petrol, electricity and water costs are a killer. Youth unemployment is on the rise. The same country that is politically in tatters must now deal with violence in KZN and Gauteng and other parts of the country and neglect this project called Covid-19.
When KZN vandals torched their mall and razed the future of children in the name of Zuma’s incarceration, somebody smiled. But I thought back to Gqozo’s time in Ciskei.
Social media was abuzz with those who supported the torchers and those who didn’t. I was lost and confused, astonished by the delight shown by so many.
Meanwhile, in KZN, the instigators are having nice meals with their families and the poor remain poor and suffering for other people’s sins.
Those who are against the soldiers’ deployment have their own hidden agendas too.