The Anti-Racism Network of South Africa (ARNSA) joins a growing number of people inside and outside South Africa in condemning the ongoing violence perpetrated by the security forces against black people both in South Africa and in the United States of America. The Killing of George Floyd in the US, Collins Khoza in South Africa and many others has demonstrated the legacy of racism and violence that continues to manifest globally.
The Killing of Floyd has managed to shake the globe into action, where millions stood up against racism and demanded justice, equality and dignity for all. We condemn President Donald Trump’s inadequate response which simply reinforced racial stereotypes. His was not only a poor display of leadership but a stance that emboldens right wing racists in America and throughout the world.
We also join the people of South Africa who have made their voices heard about the violence of the security forces in our country targeting predominantly Black African people. The recent killing of Collins Khoza by members of the army has highlighted the failure of the state to protect its people from inhumane treatment and cruelty. Khoza’s killing caused outrage because of the excessive and disproportionate force that was used by members of the security forces whose primary objective during the COVID-19 lockdown is to maintain order and protect all people living in South Africa. ARNSA expresses its outrage at the fact that the brutality meted out to predominantly Black African people living in informal settlements and townships on a daily basis is no different to the manner in which the apartheid state enforced unjust racist laws using the might of the repressive regime against unarmed defenseless black people.
We are concerned that the law enforcement agents have demonstrated not just racism but xenophobia in the manner in which they enforce the law and policies including that of immigration control.
We condemn the lack of accountability from our democratic government institutions to hold the perpetrators accountable. This includes the chapter nine institutions who are meant to be the vanguard and custodians of the governance structure of our democracy. It is a matter of great shame that actions of our security forces should parallel the racist treatment of black people, and men in particular, at the hand of racist police forces in the USA.
ARNSA demands that government deals decisively with members of security forces who make themselves guilty of excessive, unnecessary and degrading treatment of people in the society they are mandated to protect. We further demand that loopholes and deficiencies in legislation dealing with how society is policed be addressed as a matter of urgency. The initial and ongoing training of police, military and other security forces should be strengthened with intensive training in civic education, human rights, conflict management and prevention. We call for stronger accountability measures to be instituted in relation to watchdog bodies who are mandated to investigate abuses by security forces and ensure that all perpetrators are prosecuted and not protected by the state. The inclusion of civil society representation on these bodies will go a long way to build trust in these institutions. ARNSA commits its members to work with government and its security cluster to shift attitudes and thought processes that drive the negative actions and behavior of security force members. Who is the security forces accountable to?
We call on all who live in South Africa to embrace the slogan of unity in the struggle towards a more just society as we strive to eradicate poverty. In this struggle we need to build solidarity with our brothers and sisters from the African continent.
The Anti-Racism Network South Africa (ARNSA) was established by the Ahmed Kathrada and Nelson Mandela Foundations in 2015. Its secretariat also includes the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR), and the Centre for the Advancement of Non-Racialism and Democracy (CANRAD). A number of other organisations in various provinces are also part of the network. The network aims to ensure that local organisations are capacitated to deal with issues of racism within communities, but at the same time, form part of national and international efforts to tackle the scourge.