Goodbye 2019 — you will not be missed


When I began this journey as a columnist for The Herald at the beginning of 2019, I already had ideas about how my last column of the year would read.

It was going to be poetic.

I was going to reflect on the year that was, using great imagery to capture what I hoped would be a year worth remembering for all the right reasons.

But as I sit here writing this piece, my heart torn asunder by news I just read about a five-year-old child who was shot in the head in the Cape Flats, I cannot muster the strength to be merry.

I am mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted.

All the women in me are tired.

The year 2019 has been bruising.

Not even 2017, when I lost my mother to metastatic gastrointestinal cancer, was as psychologically haemorrhaging as this year has been.

How we got through so much turmoil as a country is indicative of our collective indomitable spirit and of our unmatched resilience.

Just a week ago, Eskom thrust us into an unprecedented stage 6 load-shedding — a mark of the extent to which our energy supplier has deteriorated.

Within a few days of this, Prasa was placed under administration.

This came after the auditor-general, Kimi Makwetu, announced that the commuter rail service had regressed in its audit outcomes and moved from a qualified audit in 2017/2018 to a disclaimer of the audit opinion.

The irregular expenditure at the parastatal is shocking.

But Prasa and Eskom are not the only state-owned enterprises that are on the verge of collapse.

Several other key institutions, including but not limited to public broadcaster the SABC, the Post Office and SAA are in a perilous state.

Government guarantees running into billions of rand have failed to rescue these parastatals from collapse and taxpayers are increasingly feeling the pinch.

The rate of unemployment in our country is yet another crisis that makes it difficult to be happy.

Every time I go to visit my grandmother at home in Soweto, I am reminded of just how lucky I am not to be part of the statistics.

Young people I grew up with continue to sit on street corners, waiting.

Waiting for the economy to turn around.

Waiting for the government to truly prioritise youth development.

Waiting to be recognised and acknowledged as human beings with value.

Waiting for an absolution that might never come.

But perhaps most debilitating in 2019 has been the struggle to survive another day.

As a young woman living in a country that seems to hate women, to be able to see another day is an incredible blessing.

I cannot count the number of times this year when I was truly convinced that I would die.

Like the day when I ordered food from Mr Delivery, and when the delivery guy knocked at my door, I had an anxiety attack.

I could not open the door, because I could imagine him walking into my kitchen and forcing himself on me, after which he would stab me to death.

I had these moments many times — moments when I could not leave my house because I thought I was going to be raped and killed outside.

Why would it not happen to me?

It happened to Uyinene Mrwetyana when she went to collect a package from the Post Office.

It happened to Janika Mallo while she was out playing in her grandmother’s yard.

It happened to Leighandre “Baby Lee” Jegels while she was commuting with her mother.

It happened to Meghan Cremer. It happened to Precious Ramabulana — raped and stabbed more than 50 times in her dorm room.

It happened to 19-year-old student Jesse Hess — on her own bed.

It happened to thousands of women.

With each rape, each murder, SA became more depressing for me.

For millions of women.

And now, as the year draws to a close and the festive season kicks in, one cannot help but breathe a sigh of relief that at least one just might see 2020.

And maybe it will be a better year.

Maybe less of us will be raped and killed.

Maybe the economy will grow.

Maybe unemployment will decrease.

Maybe corrupt government officials will develop a conscience.

Maybe profit-maximisation will make way for a more humane private sector.

Maybe ... maybe we will know what it means to truly have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.