Wednesday, February 21, 2007


While the president has spent the majority of his two terms ignoring crime, he is now having a R90 million fortification wall built around the presidential residence in Pretoria. Whatever for?

Could it possibly be to protect him from ‘the most dangerous criminal in South Africa’ – a Mozambican illegal immigrant – who encouraged his mates across the border to enter the country in droves over the Christmas period, because there were such ripe pickings to be had while rich people were away on holiday. This same ‘most wanted’ criminal was allowed to escape from a maximum security prison by the prison guards themselves (who colluded with him).

Why erect a R90 million wall when the SAP are as effective as they are, and beyond reproach. I believe the president gave a speech saying that he will not adulterate criticism of the police force, or the government’s serious intentions to perceive crime as ‘ugly’. (Mr President it’s easy to perceive crime that way when it’s happening in your street, and at your offices, on a daily basis. And if all you’re doing is attempting to perceive what is abundantly obvious, you’re a long way from actually doing what needs to be done).
Of course the police in Volksrust were only doing their job when they arrested a woman for public drunkenness. For this serious crime they threw her in jail with six other men – for the same offence – and subsequently the 19 year old, two 29 year olds, a 33 year old, a 48 year old and a 50 year old took turns raping her. The woman was taken the next morning (were there not police officers in the station during the night?)for medical tests to determine, presumably, if she had been either impregnated during the rapes or worse, infected with HIV or some other disease.

In Wesselsbron a much loved dentist, Dr Jan-Andries Strydom, who worked for more than 50 years as a doctor in this town (and treated mostly the local Africans), was murdered in his home by a fellow wielding a big knife and demanding cash. He’d gotten in through the back door, and kicked the old man whenever he said something. This is according to Strydom’s wife, who was bound. She watched, after the intruder’s final kick and subsequent exit of their home, as her husband drowned in his own blood. She managed to wriggle loose from her bonds, but when she reached her husband he was already dead. She said she didn’t think the burglar meant to kill her husband.

Now it’s against the above background that I’d like to quote from an editorial in the Botswana newspaper, the Sunday Standard (edited by Outsa Mokona). The editorial section is titled Loose Canon: President Zuma will sort out White People.
The writer describes the current South African president (Thabo Mbeki) as ‘The Big Lion’, and depicts his position as ‘the most important in Africa’. Why, because the Lion rules over not just blacks, but whites ‘answer to him’ too. ‘The one thing blacks did’ the writer points out ‘was to make it clear to whites that they won’t tolerate nonsense.’

Today on SABC news apparently powerful black officials dictated terms to the South African Rugby Board. They meant to set a deadline for when teams would reflect the ‘demographic composition’ of the country. That’s code for: ‘put more blacks in the rugby squads’. In offices across the nation, a certain number of black faces (is it 70%) must occupy desks. They want the same to happen on the sports field – in rugby – to reflect the composition of the nation. Sounds fair. I remember when I was at school and the kids chose their teams, they checked your hair, eye and skin color first. Yes, that mattered more than fitness, or training, or performance on the field, or having the winning team, or picking the best players. Yes, I’m sure carrying a demographics chart into the 2010 world cup and doing a survey of all teams (from France, to Korea) will be in order. Who cares who wins right, as long as each team is a perfectly artificial rainbow of representation? I’m sure people all over the world want to watch a fashion show of demographics, pat themselves on the back, and then watch the models and mannequins do a ‘reality show’ called The Soccer/Rugby/Cricket World Cup. That will definitely work. Good one.

Reflecting the attitudes perhaps of Africans all over Africa, but particularly in Zimbabwe and the rest of the subcontinent, the Loose Canon writer goes on to say: ‘I think it is better for owners of the country to get rich as opposed to settlers…Some people complain that only a few blacks are getting rich. I admit it is a matter for concern. But I have no doubt that the poor blacks will soon get rich…I say now that everyone is equal, crime must affect all people equally.”

There are some great solutions already. Bravo. Don’t solve crime, just equalize it, make sure everyone feels it. Great idea. He goes on to say he never understood Mandela, especially because Mandela ‘spent a lot of time smiling and hugging [whites]…

He goes on to postulate: ‘Although the Big Lion in power hasn’t killed any whites they don’t like him. They miss Mandela…Folks I think soon South Africa will have the kind of president who will once and for all sort out the whites…Some of the whites are so poor they have resorted to begging at traffic lights. The sight of white beggars gives me so much joy. Let them taste the feeling. Blacks have been begging since forever…[whites] should count themselves lucky they were not shot on the day of liberation. Perhaps it’s not too late to hang a few whites at the local stadium just to remind them who is in charge…Why didn’t they [blacks] divide white women amongst themselves? But again I don’t think it’s too late. Whites never stop complaining. They whinge about crime. They say the country is the most violent in the world…I can’t wait for him [Zuma] to take over. But as part of sorting out an ungrateful white people I want Zuma to embark on a re-distribution exercise. I want him to distribute white women among the long suffering black chaps in South Africa. He must first choose which white woman he wants. He can even have two.’

I have no doubt that the dentist, who was 82, saw his decent life in South Africa flash before his eyes as the last of his life left him, and as his wife slid from view. I have no doubt that this dentist, who was the only man in the town for the locals to turn to, saw his own blood spool onto the floor in front of him. Your blood has been shed, old man, and for what? Having lived, probably, his whole life in Africa, he probably expected, since it was a good life, he would end his days peacefully. But as the painful swarm fired across his old skeleton, I am sure that he realized his mistake. With his eyelashes dripping he realized: ‘This is South Africa after all, and now I am just another dying white man in Africa.’
There is an abyss in South Africa between the rich and the poor. Crime creates a bridge, something precarious like a rope bridge across a vast gorge. Some precious cargo is ferried in the dark from the mansions and manicured lawns in suburbia to the sea of shanties and smoke on the other side. Each time this happens, the barriers in those mansions go up a little higher, and the wealthy turn their backs even more on the poor. A few thieves and murderers profit, while the abyss widens and deepens. This Is South Africa.

No comments: