Siyabonga P. Hadebe  (Twitter @siyazi)

South Africa is a strange, violent and vulgar society…

Operation Wanya Tsotsi.

Think about it, a newly installed police minister wants to show his commitment to fighting crime and preparedness to act in a decisive manner. For a lack of serious creativity for his new campaign, he chooses a vulgarish slogan “Wanya Tsotsi!”

“Wanya” derives from “ukunya” (excreting faeces). But the term itself is used to express a strong emotion towards something. The usage of “ukunya” in a public domain makes me run out of words. It is therefore not appropriate and regrettable. 

Men Are Trash?

A young man brutally killed his girlfriend in Johannesburg in a gruesome manner and this sparked rage across social media. 

Those leading the charge coined a hashtag “Men Are Trash”. Others argue that women are crying out loud for protection against abusive partners, and men. Just like “Wanya Tsotsi”, the underpinnings of the has tag are sensible but the language is equally deplorable and should not have found its way to the public domain.

When other women and men refuse to call their fathers, partners, brothers and sons as “trash”, their objection is disingenuously misconstrued as insensitive, and also as not fully understanding the plight of women who have suffered in the hands of men.

The Operation “Wanya Tsotsi” and “Men Are Trash” are an epoch of a society that struggles to deal with its reality – South Africa was founded on brutality and violence. With men in the forefront as abusers and victims, our society fails to find credible solutions to violence and brutality. 

As one Zingisa Mavuso opined that “if you live in this country you are vulnerable and exposed to extreme kinds of violence and brutality than anywhere in the world, except in South America in countries almost ruled by drug lords.”

Mavuso adds, “If you doubt this go on a Friday, at 10pm at the casualty ward of Steve Biko/Bara/Groote Schuur/Cecilia Makiwane Hospitals;  where knives and axes stick out of young men’s heads, where 85 year olds have been raped and bottles put into their privates parts, where toddlers have been burnt with hot water by their own parents, where psycopaths come after their victims in day light to finish them off…”

Unfortunately, statistics point out to a sad reality, these heartless crimes are committed by men, and a large majority in these crimes are men, black men. If you have any doubts, go to the Cape Flats and hostels/ shebeens around the country to witness this phenomenon. 
Also, a large section of incarcerated population in the SA prisons are males.

This country you call home was built on the backs of black males from throughout the region. The systematic violence started with wars and repressive laws in the colonial and apartheid periods, where men were forcefully removed from their lands to work for European settlers in suburbia and mines. This trend has not stopped since many males still find life in the hinterland and rural areas unbearable. In the modern era, black men were killed in Marikana to protect a capitalist system that was brutally founded in the 1800s.

Men carry the scars. Men were converted to hapless beings who could not provide for their families. Men were turned into monsters who could not protect their wives and children. This state of affairs will not end anytime soon.

As we talk about colonialism and apartheid, we forget to mention their psychological impacts on the indigenous population. Our focus tends to be mainly on material possessions, wealth (and lack thereof) and issues of land. Black men carry the burden.

As we type hashtags in future, we must remember that issues of women abuse go “far bigger than a gender/sex vs gender/sex,” so argues Mavuso. 

We criminalise the male gender and condemn it to hell with senseless hashtags and campaigns. With this attitude we chase our away our partners. We will remain single mothers with boys who are destined to grow up without fathers, as an unintended emulation of colonialism and apartheid. 

Let justice and criminal system punish the perpetrators of violence in the meantime, while we search for solutions to end colonialism and apartheid which both killed the black family and social fabric in black communities.

Who has the answer to addressing the ‘softer issues’ to our many centuries of suffering?