I remember it exactly, it was around eleven o’clock at night when I received a call from my friend, Lindokuhle. The same day, prior to the call, Ngizwe’s speech, the former Ukhozi FM radio presenter was buzzing all over social media platforms. Ngizwe has recently become popular as he threatened the president, Cyril Ramaphosa and the Zondo commission to release the former president, Jacob Zuma from jail within an ultimatum of three days, or the whole country will burn to ashes.
I had not been much worried about Ngizwe; I had thought of him as a mediocre seeking fame. But I was worried about the words his choice of words, the word he frequently used was “Azkhale!” which is equivalent to a soldier commander saying “Fire!”
After Ngizwe’s speech, people around kwaMashu began looting their local mall, Bridge City and there were videos circulating all over social media. Still, I was not that much concerned, I had believed that the social media platforms made things appear much worse than they were. So when I saw videos of people running with bulks of food, TV’s, furniture and breaking in their mall, I was like, “Shame those people are hungry and people got to eat.”
But all of this changed when I received the call from Lindokuhle at night, he told me to wake up and rush to KwaRatan, which is (or was) our nearest supermarket, before people looted everything. I remember laughing at him and asking “What happened to the three-day ultimatum proposed by Ngizwe?”
At home we don’t own a television or even a decent radio, so my source of knowing what goes in and around the world is my phone.
So, the following day, it appeared Lindokuhle was right, the looting had escalated to other malls in Durban, Cornubia Mall, Gate Way Mall, and the Phoenix Plaza. When I saw the flames and fumes of smoke in the videos of malls burning, I held on to my belief – social media only makes things appear worse than they are. My friend called me again, to check if I’ve seen the videos yet.
I live far away from the road, the Amaoti main road. Along it, there two huge local supermarkets, KwaRatan and KwaMdletshe. My friend had told me over the phone that these two supermarkets were cleaned out by looters, I didn’t believe him, so I went to see it with my own eyes.
On my way there, I had seen two or more people moving the corrugated roof metals with their heads. Over there on the mountains, I saw a smoke emerging in between the mountain ridges, when I arrived, what I saw hurt my eyes. There were boulders, remains of burnt tires and dumpsters blocking the road and old women salvaging what was left of KwaRatan, picking from the ground bits of potatoes. There were men taking the roof of KwaRatan apart and there were kids playing soccer on the road. The whole place was wrecked and ransacked.
I turned to KwaMdletshe, it was all the same and later that day, Lindokuhle told me that the people were planning on looting our biggest supermarket at Phoenix, Mambha Cash and Carry.
Ensuing the plans of looting Mambha Cash and Carry, many people had been reported dead, the supermarket had a tight security and there were sounds of gun shots. The evening wasn’t at all good, parents and other relatives of the people shot at Phoenix, Mambha Cash and Carry were angered in tears. There was no transport to take the injured to the hospital. In addition, there were videos of the Indian community in Phoenix brutally beating and shooting the black people, my people, and soon, looting turned into war between the black people and the Indians.
A friend of mine was shot dead in the scene. Although I was angered and I wished to join in and kill me some Indian too, I had to fall back and look at the matter as it really is and was. Mandisa, a great friend of mine said to me, “I understand that those who were shot at the scene were trying to loot and yes the store was trying to protect its assets, but what I don’t understand is why would the Indians capture and kill other people who were not even in the scene.
“People are hungry Rick, there’s no job, there’s the lockdown and people are angry, Zuma being locked up was a trigger and an excuse, so I don’t blame them for looting. but as for burning the malls, I don’t agree with that. I don’t blame the black people for retaliating.” Mandisa was very angry and I shared her sentiments.
The world is black and white, there’s good and then there’s bad, there’s wrong and there’s right. The people were wrong for looting, they should’ve come with a better solution to their problems, they didn’t have to beat and chase the Pakistanis that owned local tuckshops away. Now mothers with little babies are suffering, there’s no food in stores for kids and soon, there’ll be famine.
The Mambha supermarket had every right to reinforce security to protect its assets. But the Phoenix community was wrong for murdering innocent people.
Now there’s an ongoing civil war, more blood will be spilled, more mothers will weep for their children, innocent lives will be lost and kids will grow up with no fathers. The world is burning, there’s an urgent need of prayers and hope for the restoration of humanity.