Bob’s Weekend News Wrap – 13 March 2017
My little boy LJ has started walking and this is all he has done this weekend. He has discovered that using his feet is way better than crawling on his knees, and he can also get to certain places in and around the house; he was previously not even aware that existed. I had a chill going down my spine yesterday afternoon as my wife called me out to watch LJ climbing up the stairs – he was about six step up already! To prevent any disasters around our little boy, my wife and I have had to make some adjustments around the house. We have now had a pool net professionally installed, corners of tables protected, latches on drawers installed, and made sure that sharp objects are never in sight. We have even trained our new edition to the family – the little Jack Russell – to stop at the door and not enter the house. Upstairs, just outside our bedroom door, we have installed one of those safety gates to stop him from rolling perilously down the stairs. I know now that when I knock off this morning, I have to purchase another safety gate to stop him from going up the stairs. As a middle to upper income South African taxpayer, I am able to pay my taxes and still do this for my little boy – I can honestly afford it. Why; we have even enrolled him at a reputable kindergarten to stimulate his social skills.
I am relating this story because a “Lilly mine” like horror struck a family at Jerusalem informal settlement in Ekurhuleni about fifteen days ago as a 5 year old boy named Richard, fell down a mine shaft while playing with friends. We all know conditions in these informal settlements; access to basic amenities is problematic or sometimes non-existent, very few ECD initiatives, unemployment, poverty, rampant crime, hunger, high infant mortality rate, unhygienic facilities and definitely no recreation for young curious minds. All the newspaper headlines paled in comparison to this sad and harrowing story.
Emergency rescue personnel have not been able to retrieve his body and the SANDF has failed as well so far – this, as safety, rock falls, mudslides, unstable ground, acid mine water and dangerous gases in the shaft were said to be the biggest worry, and hindrances for speedy rescue operations. When one thinks about the over 365 days that the families of the bodies of the three mine workers still holed up under ground at the Lilly Mine, this is a horror story no parent would want to contemplate. Little Richard of Jerusalem informal settlement is a stark reminder of that Letta Mbulu song – “Not yet Uhuru”. Let alone the money laundering NGO, Life Esidimeni story that the City Press and Kaya FM have uncovered. There is also the SASSA impasse, the embarrassing heist at a national key point, the unsolved murder of a Senzo Meyiwa, Dudu Myeni and SAA, The SABC, The PRASA drama! All these are stories that made headlines in the weekend newspapers. Every one of the papers were peppered with unsavory stories of wanton ineptitude, skulduggery, misconduct, dereliction of duty, flouting of fiduciary duties and sometimes even an attitude of arrogance from leaders. We are all as South Africans, desperate for strong, visible, principled and accountable governance and it seems it is nowhere in sight. What has stood out in all of this is that black life is still cheap. All the desperate stories we read or hear about involve the skin I am in. I wonder if our leaders sleep – or is it that when they do sleep, they dream about the next lucrative and self serving ambitions. Black man, you are indeed on your own!