President Cyril Ramaphosa demanded that the racial inequality that undeniably exists in South Africa, and the bias people of colour suffer every day at the hands of the law enforcement authorities that are mandated to protect them, be acknowledged and radically overhauled. 

Speaking ahead of the launch of the ANC’s anti racism campaign on Friday 5 June, Ramaphosa delivered a poignant address in response to the global response to the death George Floyd in Minnesota, United States. 

He likened the death of Floyd to the heinous murder of struggle icon Steve Biko, who himself was killed at the hands of white policemen while in custody, and said that “no effort would be spared” in bringing justice to the family of Collins Khosa and others who had been murdered by South African law enforcement. 

‘Legacy of apartheid remains’ 

Ramaphosa delivered an emotional, determined address on Friday 5 June. 

“While apartheid is gone, its legacy of poverty and displacement and what life has to offer to human beings continues to have a similar effect on how people perceive each other.”

“It is this that requires critique on an ongoing basis, that we need to condemn on an ongoing basis and oppose and correct.”

“This sense of the natural order of things encourages white South Africans to racist outbursts, where they think they have the licence to call black people ‘monkeys’, to caricature black people in our own country, to allow labour tenants to be evicted from their premises, to have black academics overlooked for promotions.”

“It needs to be challenged and broken. We need to acknowledge that racism is not only to be found in the behaviour of individuals, that it permeates within institutions, communities and societies and is manifested in many ways.”

 Women most affected

He said that racism and the norms that manifest from it are most savagely suffered by black women. 

“Poverty and inequality wears a black face. It is the face of an African woman.”

“The inequality becomes even more stark when gender is considered. The circumstances of African women in particular make these issues even more severe.” 

“The oppression of women is founded on the completely fabricated belief that women constitute a lower form of being than men, a belief reinforced by various religious cultural and societal norms, by economic marginalisation and ultimately brute force and violence against those perceived as being unlike us.” 

Collins Khosa case to be resolved by all means necessary  

He said that the death of Alexandra resident Collins Khosa, allegedly at the hands of South African National Defence Force (SAND) soldiers who are accused of beating him with the butt of a machine gun, pouring beer over his head and humiliating him before he succumbed to the injuries, is something that he deeply regrets, along with the deaths of 10 others during the lockdown period. 

“The deaths of Collins Khosa and ten others – apparently at the hands of our security forces during COVID-19 – is something that I deeply regret, because as we introduced the lockdown, I specifically spoke to them and said that they must go out amongst our people with love in their hearts and not treat fellow South Africans as the enemy.”

“Racial profiling by law enforcement authorities and disproportionate use of violence is common.”

“Unfortunately, to my deepest regret, a number of our compatriots have lost their lives.”

“These cases are being investigated by IPID, and a number of other structures that must go to the bottom of this. I will not agree that we have seen the end of this. We will spare no effort in ensuring that those responsible are brought to justice and face the full might of the law.”

“While they do not have the obvious racial dimensions of the murder of George Floyd, they do rely on a similar contempt for the intrinsic human worth of the victim.” 

“Such acts must be condemned vehemently and combatted with equal intensity.”

Earlier on Friday, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said that the case into the death of Khosa, which found via an SANDF report that the soldiers in question were not culpable, would not be reopened

Education and awareness key to success 

Ramaphosa said that in order to effect change, the system that is founded on oppression and intolerance, the system that allows such atrocities to happen without accountability, must be redressed urgently and rigourously. 

“We must develop systematic programmes to tackle it based on the basic understanding that all human beings are created equal and must be seen as equal in the eyes of the law.” 

“The first step must be to acknowledge the existence of the challenge, and allow ourselves to be guided by those who best understand the complexities of oppressions.”

“Those who suffer intolerance must be given a voice, we must make allowance for the intersectionality of discrimination. A multiplicity of factors determines oppression, and each of these require redress.”

He said that this effort would require not only government, but all members of society to become educated to the plight of their fellow countrymen and women, and work to make their lives better in solidarity. 

“Governments must act against all perpetrators of racism and intolerance,” he said. 

“As ordinary citizens, awareness and education programmes are the most vital tools at our disposal. Respect and tolerance for other cultures must be learnt. We must be promoting a deeper understanding of others so that we can learn to appreciate where each of us come from.”

“We must not be afraid to call out bigots in our communities. If we see the extent to which the world has reacted to naked racism in the United States, I firmly believe that this is a turning point in the fight against racism across the world.” 

“South Africa belongs to all who live in it. In the end, our adherence to non-racialism should never be seen as a tactic. It has never been about placating the erstwhile oppressor, it is about building a fundamentally different society – the antithesis of our Apartheid history.”

.

Presh JM Reporter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *