Indians under attack by Blacks in post-apartheid South Africa
It will be too ambitious for me to sound out voices from every country that is home to the Girmitiya Indian Disapora around the world. However, from a South African perspective, and without derogating from, and diminishing our patriotic fervour, I will touch on three issues that may require articulation as concerned voices of Indenture.
Emergence of a Radical Political Party
A disconcerting scene that is being played out and is of concern in South Africa, not only to the Girmitiya Diaspora, but to the country at large, is the emergence of a certain radical political party that is gaining traction. It has radical and dangerous leadership that has openly and publicly expressed racist views, chant anti-white slogans, and utter “anti-Indian” sentiments. This party has not pulled any punches in attacking South Africans of Indian descent.
It is so vociferous that its members were capable of disrupting the sanctum and sanctity of a full parliamentary sitting in the pre-Covid years, and even attempted to remove a Minister because he was of Indian descent. Here again, political exigencies and expediencies as well as demand for so-called “political correctness”, have served to stifle, mute or even stultify the voices of the diaspora.
Attempted Insurrection in July 2021
There was an attempted insurrection by a certain segment of the population as recently as July 2021 in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. There was widespread rioting, arson, looting, mayhem and loss of life. Estimates of damages caused reportedly range from 20 billion to 30 billion rand. South Africans of Indian descent did not participate in this insurrection.
However, much attention was diverted and deflected to the predominantly so-called Indian area of Phoenix where it is alleged that Indians massacred Blacks. In spinning a dramatic yarn, the media labelled the incident as the “Phoenix massacre”.
The total population of South Africa is estimated presently to be close to 60 million. Of this, under 3 per cent constitute South Africans of Indian and Asian descent. The population of Phoenix is about 300,000. The inhabitants of Phoenix, like many other areas, were placed on high alert because of the rampaging rioting, looting, arson and mayhem unleashed in surrounding areas. Many prepared themselves to defend their properties and loved ones. They never ventured into neighbouring black occupied areas in a rampage to massacre Blacks.
I am in full support of freedom of the press. However, the media was complicit in spreading a deceptive and dramatic narrative of a “Phoenix Massacre by Indians”. I do hope that, in due course, effective investigation will reveal the truth about this incident.
The radical political party I referred to earlier, took full advantage of the adverse media coverage, staged a protest march through Phoenix and branded the “Indians” as “racists”. However, none of them were massacred by the Indians of Phoenix during that march.
During the time of this mayhem, there was also a well-publicized social media video where, on the steps of the Durban City Hall, a call was made and the following slogan chanted “One Indian one bullet”. This is most certainly a cause for deep concern for the Voices of Indenture.
Discrimination: Admission at Certain Medical Colleges
A classic example of post-apartheid in South Africa is the discrimination practised by certain universities in admissions of students. There have been a number of instances where South African students of Indian descent who produced far better results [and I repeat, having produced far better results] have been denied admission especially at certain medical schools simply because they were considered as more privileged. Apartheid officially ended in South Africa in 1994 when the first free election was held for all citizens.
The student who are being discriminated against are the so-called “born free” South Africans [i.e. they were born in the new and free South Africa]. They were in no way responsible for apartheid and its discriminatory excesses. Yet, in the new and free South Africa, they are being discriminated against and being punished simply because they are South Africans of Indian origin and regarded as being privileged. The result is that students with inferior grades are able to jump the queue because of this discrimination. Political exigencies and expediency have tended to stifle the voices of the victims in the so-called new South Africa.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Extract of the Virtual Girmitiya 2021 conference paper entitled “Voices from the Girmit Diasporas” presented by Attorney-at-law Anand Jayrajh of South Africa on 17/9/21.
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