23 July 2018

South Africa: Balancing the Narrative in Zwelihle, Hermanus

opinion

This past Friday's events, if anything, place a large question mark over the popular portrayal of the violent protests that have rocked the coastal town.

"Marauding bandits", "criminals", "savages", "hooligans", "rogues", "thugs" and "terrorists" are some of the popular portrayals that have been used to describe the "ringleaders" of the Zwelihle protests that have received the recent attention of Police Minister Bheki Cele in Hermanus.

It is the same small group of "thugs" that is ostensibly responsible for orchestrating a community-wide "Hostage Drama" which has generated avaaz petitions in response to "liberate the people of Zwelihle".

Much of this narrative - that of a small group of rogue thugs holding the community hostage - has been captured in the relevant Facebook Groups and in the Western Cape Premier's tweets. This past Friday, during an engagement with concerned groups in the presence of the Police Minister as well as the Premier, this same language filled the auditorium of the Overstrand Municipality with one contributor, DA Deputy Mayor for the Overstrand, Archibald Klaas, comparing protesters to Boko Haram terrorists.

The response from Minister Cele was a commitment to increasing the numbers of police in the area...

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