During Pravin Gordhan’s appearance as a witness at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture last week, we who work in the building where it is being held were subjected to a barrage of noise, shouting and music by people wearing red berets and T-shirts. Having been a young person living in the townships in the dying days of apartheid, I must admit that not all the music and slogans were bad. In fact, a lot of it was plucked right out of that volatile period. But that was the only entertainment. There followed verbal diarrhoea of a magnitude that has not assaulted my ears since Jacob Zuma’s final speech as president to an SABC journalist. For more than 40 minutes Julius Malema spewed incoherent nonsense that bordered on contempt for the commission. The tragedy was not the excreta that Malema spouted, which included apparent incitement of violence against Gordhan and journalists. For me the real tragedy was that some 300 mostly young people were reduced to a useless army of ...

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