Durban – The bystanders who did nothing to help a man attacked in a road rage brawl in Port Elizabeth on Monday could have been bound by self-preservation, a psychologist said on Wednesday.
Footage of the incident surfaced on Tuesday and shows a man beating another at the roadside while paramedics and other bystanders look on.
While the victim cowered and tried to shield himself by hiding behind a traffic light pole, his attacker could be heard saying: “I will fucking fuck you up… poes.”
The alleged aggressor, who had apparently rushed to the scene after his daughter was involved in an accident, then walked back to the group of paramedics and onlookers, who watched the entire incident without intervening.
According to clinical psychologist Fawn Daniels-Clark, most people have become numbed to the effects of violence.
“Even to the extent that we may witness violence first-hand, and do nothing,” she said.
“This is partly a result of desensitisation over a long period… to the acute distress evoked every time we hear or witness a horrific story of violence.”
She said that an overriding fear that they may themselves become a victim, was also a reason for inaction.
“This is partly a result of the immediate fear that we feel when we witness a violent incident, of becoming a secondary target of the violence, and of our inability to protect ourselves,” she said.
“When people are fighting for their own survival and to meet their daily basic needs, they will very quickly resort to protecting their own interests – even at the expense of others.”