A few days ago, parts of KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng were rocked by some of the worst violence our country has seen since the early 90s.

People killed, livelihoods destroyed, billions of Rands in property and wares literally up in smoke…

Watching it play out every day for a week was like being in the middle of an apocalyptic-style nightmare we couldn’t seem to wake up from.

I can’t even begin to imagine the heartbreak and trauma suffered by those people who were directly affected by the looting and destruction, and my sincerest condolences go out to everyone who lost property, possessions or, worse, loved ones.

The only silver lining from the whole surreal ordeal was the incredible sense of community and camaraderie we saw everywhere both during and after the carnage.

Neighbours came together to help defend their homes and malls, and strangers became friends as they joined forces to clear up the impossible amount of debris left behind after the looters had stolen and destroyed everything in their path.

That is the South Africa I signed up for, and it restored a small amount of hope in my heart for the future of our country.

The sad thing, however, is that while the physical looting is now over, the silent looting rages on.

This is the looting we don’t see until it’s too late.

It’s the kind that seldom makes it on to international news feeds because it’s not peppered by scenes of hopelessness as the police stand by helpless, having run out of ammunition and rubber bullets with which to deter the looters. It offers no dramatic footage of desperate mothers throwing their children out of burning buildings to the waiting hands of helpers below. No heart-warming scenes of people from all walks of life armed not with weapons, but with bin bags and brooms.

Yet it is every bit as destructive and damaging. Every bit as responsible for businesses closing, people losing their jobs and livelihoods, insurance premiums going through the roof, and the economy sinking further into the abyss.

This is the silent looting of our country, our people, and our economy by a corrupt faction of business and government intent on servicing themselves before the people and communities they were put in place to serve.

It’s hard to keep track of the hundreds of billions of Rands our country has lost to a comparatively small group of people without conscience. People who seem to have scant regard for the genuine suffering of the majority of the citizens of our country who just want a safe, secure future for their children – and are prepared to work hard to get it.

As a result, we’re faced with failing infrastructure, failing municipalities, failing health care, failing police services, and failing state-owned enterprises.

And then, to add insult to injury, the government sees fit to ask the South African taxpayer – who is already being squeezed dry – to cough up more money to fund the National health Insurance (NHI) scheme.

Not to mention the fact that the long dormant draft Firearms Control Amendment Bill is once again rearing its ugly head, proposing to take away self-defence as a basis to own a firearm. This is surely the ultimate irony considering the violence of a few days ago.

Who can forget the tragic scenes of desperate property owners standing in terrified defiance against an angry, armed mob, with only golf clubs and cricket bats to hand?

We have to wonder where Gun Free SA was at that point. Were they on the ground, talking to and educating the looters about the dangers of guns? I think not.

And talking of people who were conspicuous by their absence…

We truly missed Minster Bheki Cele during all the shenanigans. If he’d visited KZN, Chuck Norris-style with his personal, Rambo-like army, they could probably have stopped all the looting single handed by the end of the first day!

I am, clearly, joking. Because sometimes it feels as though, if we don’t try to laugh, we will never stop crying. We, the hard-working, law-abiding citizens of South Africa, cry as we watch our country literally fall – and fail – around us, while we pay twice for healthcare, safety, schooling and more.

A recent article in the UK’s Sunday Times summed up the situation thus:

“[An] orgy of looting and corruption has destroyed Mandela’s dream. After decades of crony capitalism and misrule by the ANC, South Africa is sliding into anarchy. The poor are plundering what they can and pointing the finger at their leaders – who have stolen much more.”

In his address to the nation following the recent violence, President Ramaphosa said, “This moment has thrown into stark relief what we already knew: that the level of unemployment, poverty and inequality in our society is unsustainable. We cannot expect a lasting and durable peace if we do not create jobs and build a more just and equitable society in which all South Africans can participate freely and equally.”

You think?

Let’s take a couple of minutes to tell it like it really is:

The economy is in the toilet because of cadre deployment, tax regulations that deter investors, and hundreds of businesses in their death throes as they’re slowly strangled by senseless laws.

Our government should remember that any money it has isn’t theirs. It belongs to the taxpayers. If you loosen the strangle-hold on businesses, they will begin to grow and thrive. They can then employ more people, which means more taxes that can be used to build our country.

Government’s focus now must be to create a profitable state that delivers – not something that resembles the personal play (and war) ground of politicians.

Professionalising the state will mean politicians will no longer be able to employ their friends and family at crazy salaries.

Government beware!

The e-toll farce proved you simply cannot send 4 million taxpayers to jail. South Africa has served notice on the ruling party. Your words mean nothing!

Actual deeds and constructive results mean everything!

We need decisive, sustained, and robust action. We need you to work for us and deliver constructive results.

Because we as South Africans are a resilient bunch. Our history has forced us to be.

But there is a limit, Mr President.

And the events of the past few days have pushed many of us right up against it.