As Babsy confronted the duty nurse, he saw his neighbour, still bent, exhausted, over the stretcher on which her son lay motionless in the deadly grip of meningitis. He had not moved since he had been brought to St Patrick’s. Babsy wondered if he would ever move again.
Babsy’s family is amongst the 40 million or so mostly poor black South Africans who, as the economy collapses and unemployment rockets, are increasingly forced to rely on a crumbling public health system. The government is clearly not interested in providing adequate health services for poor people.
In a judgement issued by the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) the acting chairperson, Prof HP Viljoen, ordered that the television news channel ANN7 must broadcast a public apology to the Glebelands Hostel Community Violence Victims and admit to gross negligence in its recent coverage of an event held at Glebelands, which put some community members lives at risk.
He took the stand that he did, because he believed he was doing ‘the right thing’ for his community, his family and the government he had helped put in parliament. Tragically, today the state has reneged on their side of the bargain and failed to ‘do the right thing’ for Philani.
President Jacob Zuma’s continued disregard for the constitution, rule of law, independence of the judiciary and authority of independent institutions is increasingly translating into the lawlessness currently dominating KwaZulu Natal, where the police, courts and state security are used to protect political interests and suppress valid public discontent; where state torture and police criminality are endemic.
As the violence escalates to a kill a week – sometimes more - illegal evictions continue unabated, women are are raped by gun-toting triggermen, and freedom of movement and association has ground to a halt in this poor South African neighbourhood, anyone who suggests ‘bringing warring factions together at the ‘negotiation table’ has clearly been drinking Molotov cocktails, or they are on the thugs’ payroll.
More than 30 poor South African hostel dwellers have been murdered by thugs in recent months, in collusion with the police or without police doing anything to stop the killings and bring the perpetrators to justice. This is one of the clearest indications of the failed South African state.
Glebelands is an African National Congress stronghold. But the cost of the ruling party’s dogged determination to entrench one man’s position in the face of years of community struggle for his redeployment has been incalculable and utterly iniquitous.
The South African police force still carries with it the brutally violent culture and practices which characterised apartheid policing. These trends are unlikely to be reigned in by a government that is progressively paranoid of people power, leaving the boys in blue to become further removed from the law that they are supposed to uphold.