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Happy Holidays Turn Unhappy for Many in South Africa
My South African and British readers have to keep in mind that I am complying with the grammar rules of the USA, and therefore some words will be spelled "wrong" according to the rules of Oxford English.
In South Africa, more tragedies happen during December than any other time of the year, while this month should comprise Happy Holidays for all and a Merry Christmas for Christians. But instead of having fun during a holiday at the coast, or a well-earned rest at home, many people are coping with adversities. Loss of property and loss of loved-ones are especially tragic at this time of the year.
More horrible car accidents in a year happen in December
In South Africa, more road accidents happen during December. On Christmas Day only half of the festive season is over, and already more people than last year this time have died on the country’s roads.
“There are 845 fatalities recorded since December 1st - an increase of 17% in comparison to the previous year’s same period,” announced the Minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters, on Tuesday, December 20th.
She provided statistics:
- 82% of the accidents were caused by human error.
- 33% of all accidents were caused by men.
- 40% of all those killed were passengers.
- 33% were pedestrians.
- 27% were drivers.
- Most of the drivers were irresponsible and reckless, and some were under the influence of alcohol.
Minister Peters strongly advocated for the reclassification of driving while under the influence as a more serious offense.
More drownings occur in December
Besides rivers, dams and private pools, the Indian and Atlantic oceans claim many lives during December, the season that is supposed to be blessed and happy. South Africa has over 3,000 km (1864 miles) of coastline, and during December beaches are the most popular destinations.
At least 30 people have drowned since the start of the December holidays. ‘At least’ means some bodies of drowned people are still missing.
Crime multiplies during the festive season in December
In particular, incidents of robbery and burglary increase during December, as people are on holiday, leaving their homes unattended. Serious heists seem to multiply - for example:
- Cash-in-transit heists at the N1 City Vangate Mall, Cape Town, at a Goodwood shopping wall, and also at Silverstores, Gatesville.
- Shops owners in Cape Town are experiencing a reign of terror by armed criminals targeting businesses.
- Jewelry heist at the East Rand Mall, Boksburg on December 15th , and at Liberty Midlands Mall, Pietermaritzburg on December 6th .
- The umpteenth school was torched on Wednesday 21st by robbers who were initially there to steal smart tablets. A similar method to gain entry was used at a previous school where tablets were stolen earlier in the year.
- 360 safety deposit boxes were stolen on Sunday, December 18th in a brazen heist at First National Bank Randburg branch. The thieves reportedly tied up the security guard on duty and then spent at least twelve hours gaining access to the safety deposit box section with a jackhammer‚ before loading the locked boxes into a waiting van. The small print of the lease agreement with the bank stipulates that the bank will not be legally responsible to lessees under any circumstances for any loss or damage that may occur to the contents”.
"Criminals who are under the impression that this festive season is a good time to enrich themselves with other people’s cash without any interference from the long arm of the law must reconsider their thoughts, because we are operationally ready to deal with any occurrence whatsoever," warned the Police.
”Be patient when calling 10111,” said Top Cop, acting National Police Chief, Lieutenant-General Khomotso Phahlane, on Thursday, after many citizens alleged that they could not use the emergency line successfully.
“As far as the 10111 is concerned, like any other number, there is a peak when too many calls are being made. There is congestion, so we call upon our people just to exercise patience in terms of the waiting period. You call any call centre, somewhere they tell you that you are number 20 in the queue,” Phahlane explained.
Some people spend Christmas in jail
The forty-three-year old stepfather who allegedly killed three-year old Poppie van der Merwe by giving her a hard blow to the head after repeatedly kicking her, is in jail, awaiting his trial. Poppie's mother has also been charged with murder and was denied bail on Monday.
“Poppie was no angel. She often played rough and sometimes bullied her older brother,” claimed Poppie’s stepfather, Kobus Koekemoer, in his denied bail application on November 29th.
Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Jackson, who were accused of beating and forcing Victor Mlotswa into a coffin were denied bail and are awaiting trial in jail.
The student of the Durban University of Technology, Bonginkosi Khanyile, who was accused of using a slingshot during the recent FeesMustFall protests, is still in jail after bail was denied. He was arrested three months ago for inciting violence and damage to property.
On Friday December 23rd, 22-year old Tsepang Mokhali was sentenced to six life terms for murder and twelve years for armed robbery after he was convicted of killing a woman and her five children in December 2012.
Blade Runner Oscar Pistorius is spending his second Christmas in jail after being convicted of killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine’s Day 2013.
King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo of the AbaThembu ethnic groupis spending his first Christmas in jail serving a sentence of fifteen years for culpable homicide, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, arson, and kidnapping. His sentence has subsequently been reduced to twelve years.
Three men will spend Christmas in jail after they intimidated and assaulted healthcare workers on December 14th at KwaDukuza Clinic in KZN. Possibly under the influence of alcohol they brought an injured colleague to the clinic. An argument with staff turned violent. They have been charged with assault, intimidation and malicious damage to government property. Their next appearance in court is scheduled for December 28th.
Mark Scott-Crossley committed a second racist crime after being released on parole in 2008. He was tried and convicted in 2004 for causing the death of one of his workers by throwing him into a lion enclosure. On Wednesday, December 14th he attacked Silence Mabunda by grabbing and smashing his cellphone, and then repeatedly driving over him. Mr Mabunda, who is in hospital allegedly fighting for his life, told journalists that Mark “…. drove over me and then reversed. He drove over me twice and then just drove away.” Unfortunately, Police have yet to make an arrest.
According to available statistics, about 160,000 people are spending Christmas in one of South Africa’s 240 prisons, while NSFAS (National Student Financial Aid Scheme) has received 203,000 applications by students who want to study at a university in 2017.
Continuous awkward and tactless statements made by South Africa’s president -
President Zuma explained why he ‘axed’ a minister of finance last year in December and instantly caused a financial disaster, known today as 'the Nene disaster'. He called it ‘a Cabinet reshuffle’ – the seventh since he took power in 2009.
"December last year I took a decision… and (then) the monopoly (white) capital and their friends and stooges attacked me, and they are still attacking me today….” President Zuma told two-thousand members of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) on Thursday. "They (the monopoly capital) can paint you black when you are not black at all because they have the economic capacity to do so."
He told the youth that many poor people who had committed minor crimes are in jail because they did not have economic power and therefore they were not able to hire the best lawyers. He said, “People with economic power, they can commit crime, murder, everything, but they have the best legal brains and they don't go to prison. So the suffering (under white monopoly capital) is felt continuously".
He called on the youth to take radical steps "so that we have economic power".
The president of the ANCYL, Collen Maine, sounded even more like the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) - the 3rd largest political party in SA, characterized as radical, leftist, anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, pro-socialist, and revolutionary. In his response to President Zuma's speech, Maine said the league WANTS and NEEDS the rand to fall so that when it rises again, white monopoly will no longer be in control.
Maine was slammed by economists on Friday, December 23rd. They warned politicians to think twice before making reckless remarks about the economy. Economist Mike Schussler tried to explain what would happen if the rand falls.
"All prices will go up - paraffin, petrol, milk, maize - and it will become more difficult to create jobs."
According to his response, the president of the ANC Youth League did not grasp a word of this.
Political analysts and economist are concerned!
Meanwhile in one of South Africa’s neighboring countries, Zimbabwe, President, Robert Mugabe, splashes $6-million on a holiday of six weeks in Singapore as his country's financial sector suffers a liquidity crisis, with no quick solution in sight, and while at least 90% of the country's citizens are unemployed and hungry.
Zimbawe’s opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change, described Mugabe's trip to the Far East as "an expensive an unnecessary vacation".
Opinion of an owfma-sa
This owfma-sa (ordinary white female middle-aged South African) regards December as a special time of the year when one should make peace with everybody and everything that did not meet one’s expectations during the past year. As such, my deepest and most sincere wish is for God to be with us all. May his Spirit instill love, peace, and wisdom in all.