“Twenty years into democracy, I really don’t understand why hostels still exist”

Following several killings at hostels in KwaZulu-Natal over the past year, government representatives and King Goodwill Zwelithini will conduct a cleansing ceremony, with hopes of bringing violence to a halt. LIZEKA MADUNA asked Durbanites whether they think the ceremony is the right solution for ending the violence.

MenelisiMenelisi Ndwandwe, 21, student, Point Road
There is no way a cleansing ceremony could bring killings to halt; this is the matter of lack of education in black people. Spending taxpayers’ money [on this] is a total waste because most of these killings are politically motivated. Somehow this is a way of campaigning since we are close to elections. Instead, they should try and bring people together and educate them about the fact that supporting a certain political party doesn’t really mean one should be violent towards those opposing [their party]. The fact that it’s black-on-black violence clearly shows that people have anger. The only resolution is to review hostels and the conditions people live under. The government should build people proper houses and stop wasting money on unnecessary ceremonies.


Mrs Mthembu, 43, domestic worker, Teyesi
Violence in hostels is rife and it is perpetuated by disrespect and political influences. Therefore spending money on a ceremony isn’t a solution to this matter. Hostels need to be scrapped because of the living conditions there. Seeing people from the same area fighting and killing each other is alarming. Since the scrapping of hostels could take some time, it is better to apply effective policing in each hostel to curb violence because ceremonies are meaningless and brutal killings will continue and more blood will be spilt. If the government is willing to end these killings, it should start by implementing a strong task force and educating people about politics because that’s the most common cause of these killings.

Khetho Khetho Dlamini, 21, student, Durban

South Africa has a funny way of resolving issues. Throwing money into a huge cleansing ceremony will not resolve the issue of violence within the hostels. Hostels are there to help people who come from afar to dwell [here] while working, but the living conditions there are not ideal. South Africa has an effective tactical response team which should be used to deal with hooliganism from the hostels. It is no excuse that the motive behind most killings is politics. No slaughtering of bulls or beast will resolve all the havoc in the hostels; law enforcement is the only answer and if that fails too then hostels should be scrapped before more damage is done.

NomfundoNomfundo Dube, 21, student, Stanger
Hostels were implemented by the apartheid government for black people who came from rural areas seeking employment opportunities. Now that we are 20 years into democracy I really don’t understand why hostels still exist. [Their] existence may not be the problem but now that dwellers are brutally killing each other clearly shows that they should be demolished. We can’t have the government spending money on cleansing ceremonies which won’t curb the violence. We have heard of the ongoing killings in Glebe and KwaMashu hostels, but I doubt it will take only a ceremony to alter the barbarism within these hostels. Money will be wasted but the issue will remain, hence the possible solution to this is banning hostels and building people proper houses.

NkosinathiNkosinathi Malinga, 26, student, Durban
No ceremony will ever resolve the issue of violence in hostels because it’s politically related. Hostels were there for people who couldn’t afford rent but since they are now earning reasonable salaries they should start considering renting in townships or occupying flats in the CBD. The only reason why people are still occupying hostels is that they are running away from responsibilities; they want to have some benefits for free such as water and electricity. Since they are failing to act responsibly and be civilised, it is high time the government bans the hostels instead of wasting taxpayers’ money trying to unite people who won’t be brought together by hopeless cleansing ceremonies.

Voxes have been edited for brevity and clarity.
– Featured image via Twitter