The awful politics of xenoophobia

South Africans have a certain reputation for public robustness. We fight, scream, and shout at each other, all in the name of deciding what would make for a better country. At times, though, this robustness threatens to derail us at a time when many people could be vulnerable to serious harm. On Friday in Pretoria, violence broke out during a march planned by people who were "opposed to illegal immigrants". The police struggled to maintain order. And instead of speaking with one voice, everyone in a leadership position was busy pointing fingers, particularly at Joburg Mayor Herman Mashaba.

There was plenty of notice that xenophobic violence was coming. In stark contrast to the violence that claimed nearly 60 lives in 2008, and the awfulness that marked the violence in KwaZulu-Natal two years ago, last week we knew that a group of people in Mamelodi