Around 200 people have lost their lives amidst the riots that suddenly erupted in South Africa after the former President Jacob Zuma surrendered himself to the authorities on 7th July, 2021. The violence that started as a protest against the arrest of a politician has turned into a full-blown racial riot where minorities including the Indians are been targeted.
The country of South Africa, which once was a British colony is deep into the state of poverty. The country which has nearly 55% of the population struggling to meet their basic needs has around 9% ‘White’ population that controls most of the business resources. The racial divide between these Whites and the native African population is so stark that the latter have their lives and livelihood limited to marginalized areas away from the colony of the former. This probably explains the reason the South African cricket team has such less African players even after their population being nearly 80% in the country.
The Jacob Factor
Jacob Zuma- the 4th President of South Africa who ruled from 2009 to 2018 has been a staunch supporter of the ‘Anti-White’ movements in South Africa. Rather, the man is said to have built all his political career by coining the emotions of the natives and furthering the black-white divide.
However, Jacob Zuma is accused of many corruption charges including rape which led to his resignation on 14th February this year. Just a few months after this, Zuma surrendered to the police authorities, and this initiated a large-scale protest and violence that started from his home province of KwaZulu-Natal.
Why are Indians Being Targeted
As the riots intensified, various factions with varied interests became a part of it too. One such faction is targeting the whole of Indian community mostly because of one Gupta family. The Gupta brothers who migrated to South Africa in 1993 attained a net worth of $10 billion starting from a small business via various alleged unfair means. Even Jacob Zuma is said to be in close contact with this family that originally comes from Saharanpur, UP, so much so that their closeness often makes them get recognized as –Zupta.
— SOUTH AFRICA 4 SOUTH AFRICANS (@Amika94855371) July 11, 2021
People, especially the minorities, are under a great sense of vulnerability for their lives and livelihood in the country. Many warehouses and factories including numerous un-insured small-scale businesses have been burnt and destroyed. Also, the shops of minorities including Indians are being vandalized and looted.
The Indian community meanwhile has picked up guns to protect themselves. Indian men and women have come onto fight the rioters for targeting them under xenophobia.
I have to say, after watching everything that happened today, I am looking at the Durban Indian community in a whole different light.
These guys showed us they are willing to go all the way to defend their communities when they are threatened, whatever it takes. pic.twitter.com/GsD8rO6x3k
— Willem Petzer (@willempet) July 12, 2021
The Indian Government
The Ministry of External Affairs has picked up the issue with the South African Government that has assured that it would stand committed towards protecting the lives of Indians. However, going by the statement of many expatriates, the army and police intentionally aren’t providing any protection to them.
Appreciate the conversation with South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor today. She assured that her Government was doing utmost to enforce law and order. Early restoration of normalcy and peace was the overriding priority.
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) July 14, 2021
People from within India and outside too are demanding that the Indian Government shall step up to bring back the Indians stuck in this situation. The pandemic has already brought many devastating situations socially and economically. Added to that, these riots can cost many lives. Therefore, the Indian government must activate all the possible diplomatic channels to assure the Indian diaspora stays safe amid these racial clashes. After all, targeting the whole Indian community due to one family that has managed to escape the hands of law, shows how injustice and generalization prevail over basic tenets of law and order. Speaking against this for our own people is the need of the hour.
DISCLAIMER: This article reflects author’s view point. Goa Chronicle may or may not subscribe to views of the author