Hunger, not xenophobia, the cause of violence in SA, argues chief justice

12 September 2019 - 16:33 By Lwandile Bhengu
Chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng speaks at the University of KwaZulu-Natal graduation on Thursday.
Chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng speaks at the University of KwaZulu-Natal graduation on Thursday.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

Chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng says South Africans are not xenophobic, they are just hungry.

Mogoeng was addressing graduates at the University of KwaZulu-Natal spring graduation on Thursday. 

"South Africans are not xenophobic, it's not denialism. Let me explain to you what I am talking about. Why is it that it was in 2008 that the largest African-on-African attack happened and why is it that a large-scale attack of that nature is happening in 2019? Is there something that correlates?" said Mogoeng who is UKZN's chancellor.

"Let us stop saying things that people will clap hands for, we have problems to solve here, not to be celebrities and populists. There was an economic problem in 2008 and there's a serious economic problem now. Many people have been retrenched, there are no jobs and life is expensive," he added.

Mogoeng said that people were committing violent attacks, like those seen in the Johannesburg CBD recently, because they were desperate.

"Desperate people resort to desperate measures. I am not saying these people mustn't be punished. No, every crime must be punished because it projects South Africa in a very bad way... as a country and people who are incapable of addressing their problems," he said.

"Why are intellectuals who are South African not attacking other intellectuals from other African countries. Why are executives in the corporate sector not attacking other Africans in the corporate sector? They have things to eat, they have jobs, they have opportunities," he added.

The chief justice said that to solve the issue of violence people needed to be taught more than just to love one another.

During the graduation, former public protector Thuli Madonsela was awarded an honorary doctorate of law while KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala received a master's of commerce in leadership studies.

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