Leaders nowhere in sight as Sasolburg writhes and burns
The Times Editorial: Sasolburg has warned that there will be war, that residents will show the government that they will not be fobbed off with empty promises.
The violence that started on Sunday and has now claimed many lives, including that of a seven-year-old boy caught in the crossfire, has once again underscored the need for decisive leadership when dealing with the eruption of anger in communities that believe that they are neglected and ignored.
Much of Tuesday's violence appears to have been spurred by the non-appearance of Free State Premier Ace Magashule and Co-operative Governance Minister Richard Baloyi at a meeting with residents.
When it became clear that neither political leader would arrive to deal with residents' grievances, the already agitated people resorted to what they have been doing since Sunday - giving violent and criminal expression to their discontent.
Though the protesting residents must be held accountable for the damage and mayhem in Sasolburg, Magashule and the politicians who have direct responsibility for the town have some tough questions to answer.
Where, for instance, was the local ward councillor in all of this? Where was Magashule's provincial cabinet when Sasolburg burned and a street war raged between residents and police, when paramedics were attacked as they tried to rescue the injured?
Yesterday, residents started to clean up, sweeping streets littered with the debris of their anger.
But we well know that this does not necessarily spell the end to the violence in Sasolburg - or in any other community filled with the rage of dispossession.
No one said the transformation of South Africa would be an overnight miracle. But decisive leadership by those elected to public office is certainly something we should be able to insiston.
Magashule needs to act as if he leads the Free State and its people.