By Thand’Olwethu Dlanga
The Newcastle farm murder ‘stakeholders’ meeting held on 22 September 2020 closed off with a question, “Nibasabani abelungu, Ndosi” referring to Police Minister, Bheki ‘Ndosi’ Cele. This was an interrogation that was made by Somnandi Hadebe upon submitting that “iinkinga zethu ziqhamuka kubelungu”. Hadebe, a Zulu speaking African and a farm dweller argued that Africans problems are as a result of white people or Europeans.
Immediately I was reminded of Mfiliseni Magubane’s trembling voice in Mbongeni Ngema’s 1993 song, “African Solution”. On the eve of this release, violence had plagued Black South African communities.
Magubane depicted South Africa rhythmically as “a promised land invaded by white settlers, where the African ancestors had fought relentlessly against that invasion”. In a quest to have Africans refocused on real liberatory politics, Magubane chanted in 1993, “Nibasabani abelungu”; a question that reverberated throughout South Africa’s masses and social media alike on 22 September 2020.
In various platforms, the police, (“ooNdosi”) have always denied that they are scared of white people. Let us interrogate the police actions regarding this denial. In August 2012, thirty-two Black miners were killed by “ooNdosi” in Marikana, after a protracted strike, demanding a R12 500.00 minimum wage for all miners.
Subsequently, on 19 October 2015, “ooNdosi” shot, injured and arrested UCT Black student protesters during a #feesmustfall protest. Yet again on 27 August 2020 “ooNdosi” fired rubber bullets injuring Eldorado Park Black protestors who were demonstrating against the killing of a Black boy, Nathaniel Julius. Through precise evaluation, UCT Black #feesmustfall protesters opted to use a ‘white human shield’ as protection during the next day’s protest. the white human shield was a wall of white students who created a barrier between the Black protesters and the police. ‘Magically’ on this day, no shots were discharged by “ooNdosi”.
Recently, white protestors in Free State burnt a police van, stormed the Senekal court and threatened to destroy a police inyala. Again, ‘magically’ no bullets were discharged with no arrests were made by “ooNdosi”.
In contrast to ‘Ndosi’s’ behaviour towards Black protesters, he, along with the State Security minister, opted to have a ‘conversation” with white protesters in Senekal. Hadebe’s question lingered in my head; “Nibasabani abelungu; Ndosi”? A question I will attempt to answer.
The systemic policing of this country has been institutionalised from the very origins of colonialism and apartheid-era policing. It was founded and developed within the context of racially exclusive power and racial discrimination of the colonial period after the Union of South Africa.
During the later years of National Party rule, beginning in the 1940s, the role of the police concerning the Black community was demarcated in terms of discriminatory legislation which was designed to control and regulate the lives and activities of South Africa’s Black population.
That system is what seals itself in policy formulation, governance, politics, social arrangement, and judiciary of post-apartheid South Africa. Post-1994 ANC adopted developmentalism creed expressed in its national democratic revolution (NDR) which has influenced Black and white people’s interactions today. The developmentalism schema continues to entrench the modern colonial matrix of power where life, body and voice of a Black person are cast in what Franz Fanon terms ‘a zone of non-being’.
The usurpation of indigenous people’s land and the forced capitalistic economic system is now disguised with the clever talk of ‘democracy’ and respect for ‘human rights’. The liberatory creed of Mayibuye i_Afrika has since been replaced by “South Africa belongs to all who live in it”.
In this ‘new way’, the oppressor’s colonial logic of white supremacy is dominant since the ‘human’ in the human rights discourse refers to white people. Today, through Hadebe’s question we see that South Africa’s democratisation did not rise to the decolonisation challenge as understood in African liberatory creed.
Rather, the slave-master relations of whites being a representation of a civilized master while Blacks are barbaric slaves. Hadebe illuminates this reality in his query.
While many might think that ‘Ndosi’ managed to politically evade the direct question posed at him by Hadebe, history which has not blank pages has provided answers. When the police did not engage the ‘white human shield’ at UCT and when they did not sprout with rubber bullets the white protestors at Senekal but rather opted to have a ‘cordial’ conversation, they were saying white people are human beings and Black people are non-beings. A political and social state of affairs on post-apartheid.
Since the congress movement has refined Blacks to accept the status quo of white supremacy and Black inferiority, Mangaliso Sobukwe taught that “it is the task of Black people to exorcise this slave mentality, where they must choose to starve in freedom than to have plenty in bondage”.
He added, “there must be no begging of the foreign minority to treating our people courteously, but rather the Africans/Blacks must assert their African personality”. Unfortunately, the ANC and its policing schema have accepted indignity, insults, humiliation, and inferiority because they see ‘abelungu’ as more human than other people. Thank you to Hadebe, Ngelengele for exposing yet the need for the decolonization of South Africa. Mayibuye i_Afrika.
Thand’Olwethu Dlanga is a student of Political Sciences and Historical Studies at the University of Pretoria. He writes in his personal capacity
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