South Africa in the mid 1980’s was a war zone with a declared State of Emergency that saw thousands of people detained without trial and the SADF and the Police operating in the townships, often with impunity.
Closer to home, the townships surrounding Uitenhage were aflame, culminating in the murder of suspected informer Tamsanqa Kinikini.
People were protesting against the apartheid government that had banned political organisations and imprisoned community leaders.
The government was regarded as the enemy and state property like community halls and schools were targeted, while a consumer boycott of white owned businesses was implemented.
Fast forward nearly 30 years and South Africa finds itself at yet another cross road.
Instead of protesting for political freedom, South Africans across the country are now protesting for service delivery – and the situation is becoming critical.
According to the South African Police, there were 1 907 violent protests from April 2013 – March 2014 in South Africa.
This excludes the over 11 000 protests that have been regarded as peaceful.
In 2007/08 there were 812 violent protests countrywide, indicating a massive surge in the number of protests taking place in South Africa.
The South African Police have requested an additional R 3.3 billion over 4 years to beef up the Public Order Police Unit (POP).
The bulk of the money they are asking for (over R2-billion) will go towards personnel costs, with the remainder for equipment and accommodation.
At present the POP unit consists of 4 721 members and their resources currently include: 561 armoured vehicles; 10 water cannons and 973 soft-top vehicles.
It is clear that South Africans are becoming impatient with the lack of service delivery and this has erupting into protests and destruction of property.
Yet again we are seeing a government that is increasingly relying on the South African Police to suppress the protests as it is unable to meet the needs of the citizens of the country.
We are entering a cycle of resistance and repression once again in South Africa and it appears that we have learnt nothing from our past.
Cry the beloved country.