Sl o o o o w Violence in the Environment

What is Slow Violence?

Rob Nixon (2011:2) states that slow violence occurs slowly and grows without the public’s attention. He describes it as a violence of “delayed destruction” across time and space and  a incremental and accretive violence(Nixon 2011:2). It is not commonly viewed as a violence because when people hear the word violence all they can think of is blood, weapons, war, destruction but crimes against nature is also a violence -an even bigger catasrophe. One can take the lives of millions oforganisms by simply spitting out a chappie, or one’s laziness can cause plastic to travel to rivers and kill the fish,birds and the ground. Don’t be too lazy to walk to the trashcan 10 metres away from you and make sure that plastic bottle goes INSIDE the trashcan. A few of these crimes include climate change, toxic drift, deforestation, biomagnification, acidifying oceans (Nixon 2011:2) and the fact that the earth is used to be a nuclear testing ground, but what these people don’t realise is that there is no Plan(et) B.

Nixon raises a question and wonders what can be done to this situation in a world where media rules society (Nixon 2011:3). He asks how can we convert the effects of slow violence into image and dramatic narrative so that the public is more convinced and educated (Nixon 2011:3). According to Nixon to address these challenges of slow violence is to confront the dilemma ( 2011:9) Nixon states that poor communities are  the most likely to not understand the causes and effects of this situation and how they are the biggest contributers and victims at the same time.

Look at this bottle of clean fresh water. This water will take away that thirst instantly. This water will wash things clean. This water can rehydrate the sick and refresh the rich and the poor. This water is safe and healthy. It detoxes the body. It cools your sweating body that stood hours in the sun.

aqua bottle on background with drops

Look at how our grandparents enjoyed this river. As little kids the river was the community swimmingpool and the homeground of tube racing. The river of exploring insects and creatures of nature. The river where friendships were created and first kisses happened.


Now look at how this river looks today. Look how toxic it is. The foam is a huge indicator of serious pollution. The garbage and foam is smothering this river. Would you want to swim in this river? Would you want to go tubing in this river? Will you take your girlfriend/boyfriend here for your first kiss? I can see that look on your face and the answer is a big NO. This is what happened to the Hennops river.



The Hennopsriver flows near an informal settlement in Olievenhoutbosch and Olifantsfontein and Thembisa. It is evident that the poor is a big contributor of this situation.Waste is dumped in the river, clothes are being washed in the river, everything they want to get rid of is dumped in the river. But they don’t know what the effects of what they are doing. They are not aware what these chemicals and waste is doing to our environment.

According to Rekord Centurion (Barnard 2015) After AfriForum threatened to take the Tshwane metro court to force it to rehabilitate the Hennops river, the metro finally joined the party and contributed toward the rehabilitation of the river that has long been a woe for residents. But only a small amount of money has been given and this won’t be sufficient. The river reeks and becomes a huge health hazard for the community. Raw sewage has been found in the water samples and bacteria like E.coli is rising ( Meijer& Barnard 2016).

Do you see what happened to the world? This is the result of poor uneducated communities, selfish residents, selfish metro’s and a selfish government. Don’t they realize, Don’t they care. Perhaps it will help to show them these photo’s of before and after and help them realize that this is slow violence, not only to the Hennops river but also to the residents living near the river. We are slowly but surely killing ourselves.

Sources Consulted

 Barnard Y.2015. Hope for Hennopsriver. Published by Rekord Centurion. [O]. Available  Accessed on 23 April 2016

Bottle Water Image [sa]. Available at Accessed on 23 April 2016

Hennops River Pollution.2008. Photographed by Vaughanoblapski. [O].Available Accessed on 23 April 2016

Kids playing on tube. [sa]. Photographed by Gillham studios.[O]. Available Accessed on 23 April 2016

Meijer ,K & Barnard, Y. 2016. Money for Hennops ‘only a drop’. Published by Rekord Centurion.[O]. Available at Accessed on 23 April 2016.

Nixon, R. 2011. Slow violence and the environmentalism of the poor. Cambridge : Harvard University Press.



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