Letter | Minister Sisulu needs to wake up to the harsh realities of SA

Lindiwe Sisulu
Lindiwe Sisulu
Image: Trevor Samson

According to media reports, International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu is said to be furious that the Australian department of foreign affairs issued a travel advisory, warning visitors to South Africa to exercise a high level of caution.

The advisory presaged: “Crime‚ including violent crime‚ is a serious issue in South Africa. Most types of crime are increasing. Be alert. Don’t expect the same level of service from South African police as you would in Australia.”

Dangers to travellers allegedly include: “Murder‚ rape‚ car hijackings‚ civil unrest‚ water shortages‚ spiked drinks‚ drunk drivers and terrorism.”

It is also pertinent to note the reports in February that the UK also issued a travel advisory, cautioning tourists of the possibility of terrorist attacks in South Africa.

Minister Sisulu strongly objected to these reports, saying that they contained “misleading information about South Africa in general and‚ in particular‚ about the experiences of foreign tourists visiting South Africa”.

However, her anger is surely misplaced. Instead of lambasting Australia and others, she should direct her ire at the reasons giving rise to these advisories. The brutal truth hurts! Is there any South African who has not experienced crime and, yes, even murder, personally?

Schoenies, our placid village was rocked by the recent, callous murder of two vulnerable folk, bludgeoned to death just a few doors away.

We now pay for a 24/7 security presence; we take turns patrolling; we lock everything and set our elaborate alarm systems; our trails are too dangerous to traverse alone; the adjacent Victoria Drive is a cyclist nightmare due to the frequent muggings.

Last week’s newspapers report mob justice out of control resorting to barbaric tyre-necklacing; a car guard was stabbed to death on our popular tourist venue Hobie Beach; Moses Mabhida Stadium was trashed by rioting hooligans; the North West of our country, Mahikeng spreading to neighbouring areas, is a war zone, people are being shot; our president had to curtail an overseas trip to rush back to try and quell the chaos; public transport is brought to a standstill nationwide by trade unionists; more than 40 people have been kidnapped and held to ransom in the last three years; racism is naked and despicable; an ANC town councillor is jailed for five years for fraud; another is convicted of common assault; an ANC Nelson Mandela Bay city council opposition cannot abide by civilised, democratic behaviour, turning council meetings into bar room brawls; The Herald “has to take unusual steps to safeguard reporters” from racially inflamed political meetings . . .

This then is the image we portray to the world virtually on a daily basis! Minister Sisulu is in a state of denial as are the ANC and EFF parties. They are inwardly focused on their personal squabbles and self-aggrandisement at the cost of the reality facing the ordinary folk in this country as mirrored by our media to the world at large. They cannot control their own corrupt internal affairs, never mind South Africa. Their malfeasance permeates the very fabric of our society and so no wonder the mess this country finds itself in!

The evils of apartheid and the tragic injustices of the past cannot be ignored, but the sooner this country, especially after some 24 years, stops blaming the past for its inferiority complexes and inadequacies, the sooner we shall begin to move forward. As a start, we need to acknowledge the manifold problems facing us and not hide behind our state of denial.

We need to resurrect the economy, create jobs, narrow the gap between those who have and those who do not. This is only possible when we have an educated people and labour force. The paramount solution and emphasis must therefore be education, education and education.

All of us must play a part: government, corporates. NGOs and every citizen who loves this country and wants to see it flourish. If we are serious about education, we will deliver books to schools on time, we will eradicate pit latrines and stop our children from drowning . . . in today’s age there can be nothing more despicable! Everyone can help educate a child, no matter how small the contribution. Therein lies our future – nothing else!

Talbot Cox, Schoenmakerskop