Animal slaughter in the suburbs

The slaughtering of animals is a fundamental aspect of the economic, social and spiritual life of many people in South Africa. And historically under apartheid, these events generally occurred in rural areas or urban townships designated for black people.

Since the transition to democracy in the early 90's, increased suburban mixing has exposed established middle-class residents, particularly white people the slaughter of animals and cultures of other people says 702 host Azania Mosaka.

Scott Burnett is a PhD Candidate at Wits Centre for Diversity Studies and says he is looking at the ways racial divisions in South Africa. Specifically, he says the ongoing power of white people is reproduced through some ideas about what is appropriate or inappropriate in some spaces, what the best way to protect the environment is, and what is the correct way to handle animals.

He explains, that as a resident of Melville, Johannesburg and watching a conversation explode on the Facebook page 'I Love Melville' on the slaughtering of animals he felt compelled to tackle the subject.

One resident took to the "I Love Melville" Facebook site to ask for advice: where should she report this? She had spoken to the police, but they referred her to the SPCA. Can we find proof that the animals suffered? Had by-laws been broken? Other residents weighed in. Report it to the DA counsellor, advised one. How was the rest of the carcass disposed of? The sight was 'offensive', said one; 'traumatising', said another. Had the nearby stream been polluted? It was clear: a crime had been committed. There was just a bit of debate as to which law exactly had been broken.

Scott Burnett is a PHD Candidate at Wits Centre for Diversity Studies

People are used to a particular way of being and what they're used to is a conditioning of our racial past. So when white people see things done differently, very often their reaction is to resist that and on a level is a form of keeping certain individuals, such as poor and black people out of those neighbourhoods.

Scott Burnett is a PHD Candidate at Wits Centre for Diversity Studies

Burnett says the conversation on that Facebook page was an offence first, and then only later did people try to figure which rule was broken.

We need to be a little bit more open to seeing people doing different things and accepting that we live in a country that is defined by its diversity and not jumping to calling the SPCA or the police because it makes you uncomfortable, says Burnett.

We're willing to tolerate mass slaughter like factory scale animal slaughter, as long as it is out of sight and out mind because we think that is part of civilisation. However the minute someone is butchering an animal down the road from us, black people specifically, it is suddenly an offence.

Scott Burnett is a PHD Candidate at Wits Centre for Diversity Studies

Listen to the full conversation in the clip below:


This article first appeared on 702 : Animal slaughter in the suburbs


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