Day after day and year after year, the media in SA carry reports of people declaring that they are not animals. A migrant at the fundamentally corrupt and abusive "reception centre" in Marabastad, Pretoria, says: "They treat us like a dog, they don’t do right. They just want money." A report on an even more abusive prison in Bloemfontein notes that a leaked video shows an inmate shouting "No! I am not a donkey," before being injected with antipsychotic drugs. People making their lives in shacks repeatedly declare that they are "living like pigs in the mud" or that they "live like rats". When the police open fire on a road blockade or hurl teargas into a shack settlement, people often say that they have been treated "like dogs". These kinds of statements are as common in Cape Town as they are in Durban or Johannesburg, and one is just as likely to hear them in Afrikaans as in Sesotho or isiZulu. They were common in popular protests at the turn of the century and they remain just as c...

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