Every time there is violence of a particular sort in SA I think about 1949. In mid-January of that year a single incident between an Indian shopkeeper and a young African man sparked days of tremendous brutality across Durban.

The National Party government had been elected less than a year before and had not yet had the opportunity to implement its plans to segregate the city. Blacks and Indians lived cheek by jowl in and around the docks and city centre, in hostels and the tightly packed lanes of shops, mosques and markets. They shared the streets, more or less peacefully...

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