In recent years, the headlines have been dominated by stories of violent protest. Can’t people protest peacefully? one keeps hearing citizens ask. But the problem might not lie with the protesters themselves.
When one thinks of service delivery protests, the following comes to mind: burning tyres, vandalised property, violence and criminal behaviour. Over the past year the media covered a number of these protests. These included protests in Daveyton, Bekkersdal, Thembelihle in Lenasia, Honeydew, Tembisa and Langa in Cape Town. As much as the reports capture the lack of responsiveness from the various government stakeholders, the message that emanates is clear: residents of the affected communities will only get a response if there is violence.
Is this correct? At every family or social gathering where discussions around service delivery arise, the common perception is that people are “incapable” of protesting peacefully. The members of the communities protesting for service delivery are called “hooligans, criminals and thugs”, who have no respect for social order. On closer examination, however, one sees that these affected communities have been protesting peacefully for years without any response or remedy – so they turn violent.
The reaction from political parties is also important….
Source : Daily Maverick