Editorial

Madonsela is right about 'psyche of violence'

11 August 2017 - 04:47 By The Times Editorial
Thuli Madonsela at the East Coast Radio FNB Business Women's Breakfast at the ICC in Durban on August 8, 2017.
Thuli Madonsela at the East Coast Radio FNB Business Women's Breakfast at the ICC in Durban on August 8, 2017.
Image: THULI DLAMINI

Former public protector Thuli Madonsela's observations on Women's Day about the state of our society, justice system and political culture are important.

In a nutshell she argues that much of what we experience and witness in headlines today is symptomatic of a "psyche of violence" playing out in what should be the hallowed halls of parliament and elsewhere. It is exacerbated by a dysfunctional justice system.

It's difficult to argue against her.

We have been confronted with video footage showing a cabinet minister assaulting a woman, enjoying impunity for days and who is yet to face any formal political censure.

Stomach-turning footage emerges of a young woman being brutally assaulted at a school, a scene depressingly familiar in our country and whose exposure inspires the usual hand-wringing but little else.

Besides the violent gender war, race battles continue in an apparent rising trend as five young white men face charges for beating a black couple in a fast-food queue and a white restaurant owner is shown kicking a black employee.

Meanwhile, political rhetoric frames those exercising their constitutional rights as "traitors" and political thugs harass and attack journalists and others. There can be no doubt we have cause for alarm over a societal crisis.

Where does it end? It's an issue that should be seized by the nation's leaders but there are few with the moral authority to do so, particularly our president. We desperately need a new national consensus to draw us back to the values the parents of our democracy embraced.

In the absence of anyone else to credibly play this role, the Chapter 9 institutions, the guardians of our constitution, such as the Human Rights Commission and the Commission for Gender Equality, need urgently to step up to the plate.

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