READ: 'Saving a country aflame '- Prince Buthelezi's statement on KZN protests

The violent protest broke out in KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday, with Buthelezi joining the chorus of those calling for calm as the violence spreads to other parts of the country.

FILE: Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi has lamented the violence in the country following the arrest of former President Jacob Zuma. Picture: Xanderleigh Dookey/EWN

As we witness a country aflame with violent protests, looting, and destruction, it is clear that South Africa is being destroyed. This has become far bigger than politics. It has enveloped rogue and criminal elements, as well as an army of desperadoes who have nothing to lose in the face of poverty and unemployment. The State is bring held to ransom as citizens create anarchy.

While the Minister of Police has assured us that this wave of violence is being handled appropriately, it has not abated. Can it really be true that South Africa’s armed forces are unable to control the rampage of destruction by crowds of people intent on warring against the State and against those who live by the rule of law?

This is an internal war against ourselves, and South Africa cannot survive it. Ours was already a country on its knees. Such unchecked destruction will finish off any chance of recovery or economic survival. If there is any fear in acting against the perpetrators, that fear must be set aside for the sake of us all.

I recognise the constitutional right to protest, but that does not include the right to violent acts and destruction. Tragically the culture of violence is so deeply entrenched that our country is reaping the harvest of seeds sown decades ago. It is no coincidence that many of those committing these acts of violence are seen wearing the apparel of the ruling Party, just like those who were at Nkandla.

In 1976, after the Soweto uprising, I was working closely with Mr Oliver Tambo and the ANC’s mission-in-exile. What had happened in Soweto led the ANC to call for ungovernability. They urged all oppressed South Africans to make this country ungovernable. While I understood this response, I warned Mr Tambo against it, for I foresaw the creation of a culture of violence and lawlessness that we would be hard-pressed to change or remove when we gained control of the country.

That culture of violence and lawlessness is evident now in the burning of trucks and vehicles, the destruction of property, looting and criminal attacks. How will the State react? South Africa cannot afford a slow response, particularly in the presence of a devastating pandemic.

Anarchy has been unleashed. I urge our President to take a firm stand. I know the responsibility upon his shoulders and I will willingly stand in support of any measures he takes to protect South Africa. But I also know that if he does not act now, and act decisively, all will be lost.

Our beloved country is aflame. We need to act.

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