New website

August 14, 2016

I have moved all writing to my new website. Check http://selfwriteous.co.za to view my work going forward.

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A new direction

February 24, 2016

I’ve recently decided to explore one of my many passions: fiction writing. I’ve wanted to be an author since the age of 11 and I am finally making the effort to make my childhood dream a reality. I regret that it took me this long, but better late than never. My first published eBook will be available for purchase soon. Watch this space!


Jacob Zuma: A president accountable to no one

June 19, 2015

You’ve go to love the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). They are exactly what Parliament needs. They are by no means ready to lead South Africa but they are making the right noises. For the longest time the African National Congress (ANC) and the media portrayed EFF leader, Julius Malema, and his party as incompetent, foolish, brash and downright annoying. But they’re pushing all the right buttons by asking questions in Parliament that we want answers to.

Such as when President Jacob Zuma will “pay back the money”. Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found that the state spent taxpayers’ money – R246 million of it – to upgrade his Nkandla homestead. She also recommended that he pay back a portion of that amount because he and his family unduly benefited from the upgrade.

This was already a year ago. Initially, people were angry. They voiced their disgust and frustration in mainstream and social media because it seems like there is nowhere else to turn to. The Democratic Alliance (DA), in a usual self-righteous knee-jerk reaction to anything ANC, have started legal proceedings after the government’s Security Cluster said it plans to take Madonsela’s Nkandla report on judicial review.

Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko ruled that his boss, Zuma, need not pay back any of the R246 million because the “fire pool”, chicken kraal, visitor’s centre and amphitheatre were all necessary “security” features at Nkandla. And on the subject of the “fire pool”. Let’s call a spade a spade (or a pool a pool). That’s a pool his family will be dipping into in the coming summer months.

It’s great the that the DA has decided to take legal action. In a democratic society such as ours, all wrongs should go through the judicial system and justice will hopefully be served. But it will most likely become a lengthy drawn-out procedure, and we’re lucky if justice is served.

But along came the EFF and boldly decided to challenge the president head-on. Well, I wouldn’t even call it a “challenge”. It’s a simple question they’re asking, really. When will Zuma pay back the taxpayers’ money that was spent on his home? No matter how many times the question is put to him, he refuses to answer and his friend, National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete always tries to shut the red berets up.

It seems as though Zuma is unaccountable to Parliament and unaccountable to the public. There is nothing anyone can do to make him pay back our money. The EFF has been asking him to do so for the past year, and I hope they would not give up. I also hope the DA’s legal proceedings would yield some positive results. The ANC, and Zuma especially, did not expect to be nagged by the EFF. What Zuma and the rest of the ANC are hoping for is for us to forget about Nkandla and the R246 million. Because as usual, when something shocking is revealed we get angry, post angry tweets, write scathing articles, and that’s where it ends.

When Zuma’s corrupt financial advisor, Shabir Shaik, was released on medical parole in 2009 the public went into a frenzy. And rightfully so. Before 2012 medical parole, which falls under the Correctional Services Act, was for people in the final stages of their terminal illness so that they could “die a dignified and consolatory death”.

In 2012 the legislation was amended, and it now no longer contains the words “final stages”.

For a short while people were angry when Shaik was released, but they accepted it and soon we no longer heard about it (except for the occasional article about his golfing habits and his abuse of journalists).

In 2012, former national police commissioner, Jackie Selebi, was also released on medical parole. He was convicted of corruption in 2010. People were angry but that, too, they accepted because, let’s face it: there is nothing we can do.

I don’t mean acceptance by being okay with crime and corruption. I mean acceptance in that we’ve become used to the bad guys getting away with ripping us off in South Africa.

When news surfaced of the Secrecy Bill, again people were angry and took to Twitter. There were protests. But nothing came of it because, as much as we are a democracy, there is nothing that we, the people can do. It makes us angry because we feel powerless and betrayed. We feel like our voices are not heard, that government is riding roughshod over our concerns and that it has become too easy for corrupt officials to loot public coffers for personal gain.

There’s probably not much we’ll be able to do because I highly doubt we’ll see corrupt officials pay for their crimes. I doubt Zuma will pay back a cent or that corruption will magically vanish, especially from within the ANC. The problem is there are no consequences for their actions so I am pinning my hopes on what little democracy is left in SA. I hope against the evidence that opposition parties can hold the president to account. I hope that there can be a brighter, far less corrupt future for South Africa. I hope because that is all I can do until the evil men and women running South Africa are actually brought to justice.

Originally published here.


The US government: torturers with impunity

December 10, 2014

Governments never do anything without its cabinet or congress thinking about it carefully first. There is no acting upon impulse, and everything is done very strategically. This leaves me wondering why the United States would release a report tarnishing the reputation of one of its own institutions – and a major one at that.

One Tuesday December 10, the US government released a report detailing all the human rights abuses committed against “terror suspects” by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Now that the truth is out, what happens next? Is this going to cause another Twitter frenzy for the next few days and then be forgotten about? This is usually what happens. When South Africa’s public protector, Thuli Madonsela, found in a report that President Jacob Zuma spent public money on upgrading his private home, everyone was outraged. The same happened when Zuma’s “very ill” friends, Schabir Shaik and Jackie Selebi, were saved from their prison sentences by being released on medical parole. These incidents angered the public and the media were having a field day. But nothing came of it.

It’s not impossible to hold government officials to account, though not very likely. Some instances may call for a collective stand. Majority of the people in a country need to be prepared to take part in protest action, coupled with brilliant lawyers willing to take up the fight on behalf of the people.

Human rights organisations are often headed by attorneys. The release of the “torture report” has raised the ire of these organisations, upon which I am hoping they would act. Not only do they now have to keep a watchful eye over how the US deals with its terror suspects but they need to all stand together and fight hard to get the US to shut down its detention camps where mostly innocent people are accused of terrorism. It wouldn’t be surprising if they are all actually innocent.

Human rights organisations putting pressure on the US would be holding President Barack Obama to a promise he made when he was still running for the presidency in 2007. He promised to shut down Guantanamo Bay, a statement that probably got him many votes.

After his inauguration in January 2009 he promised it would close within one year. It’s still standing today and innocent people are still being tortured. Presidential candidates and political parties will say and do anything to get votes, and hardly ever do they stick the promises they make.

Sporadically there will be media reports about detainees being held without charge and being tortured for several years. Now and then a human rights watchdog would issue a statement about it. But these random actions will not yield any positive results. The organisations need the backing of the masses, and perhaps it’s by time they work on this strategically.

For how much longer will the US detain and torture people just because they have a Muslim name? Why should the US get away with wrongfully detaining Mamdouh Habib? He was arrested in Parkistan in 2001, taken to Egypt and tortured, and was then transferred to Guantanamo Bay. He was released without charge in 2005.

Abdel Malik Wahab al Rahabi was accused of being the bodyguard of Osama bin Laden and has a long list of alleged terror activities against his name. He was seen as a high risk and major threat to the US, and was among the first men to be held at Guantanamo Bay in 2002. He is now eligible for release after his case came before the Periodic Review Board, which is conducting parole-style hearings for detainees. It goes without saying that he, too, is being tortured while being held at Guantanamo Bay. If he is eligible for release he can’t possibly be guilty of all the terror activities the US government accused him of.

As individuals or small groups, we are powerless against governments. They can do what they want with us and there is nothing that can be done about it. However, it is us that politicians and political parties need. Without our votes they wouldn’t be up there calling the shots. They tell us what we want to hear, it sounds good and we fall for it blindly. We vote for them and once they come into power they wreak havoc. What can we do about it single-handedly? Nothing.

It is time people realise that they have the power. They need to use it wisely to hold politicians to account for a better society.

Originally published on Voices.


Visiting Rhodes Memorial

February 22, 2014

I only recently visited Rhodes Memorial for the first time. I always knew it was a pretty place in the southern suburbs where people pose for photographs on their wedding day. When I did a bit research on Rhodes Memorial, I wondered why people would want to take their wedding pictures there.

Rhodes Memorial.

Rhodes Memorial.

The memorial, built of Cape granite quarried on Table Mountain, is named after Cecil John Rhodes (1853 – 1902), an English-born South African politician. It was designed by Sir Herbert Baker. The memorial is situation on Rhodes’s favourite spot on Devil’s Peak. It has a staircase of 49 steps, one for each year of Rhodes’s life. At the bottom of the steps is a bronze statue of a horseman. Eight bronze lions flank the steps leading up to the memorial.

The bronze horseman flanked by the lions.

The bronze horseman flanked by the lions.

At the memorial you are surrounded by nature, which is calming and beautiful. Looking down on Cape Town is amazing. Now, more about the man himself….

Rhodes was a mining magnate and founded De Beers, a diamond company. He was a strong believer in British colonialism and founded Rhodesia, which was named after him in 1895. Rhodes University is also named after him.

The bronze horseman.

The bronze horseman.

Rhodes can be described as racist. He wanted to expand the British Empire because he believed the Anglo-Saxon race was destined to greatness. In his last will and testament, Rhodes said of the British: “I contend that we are the finest race in the world and that the more of the world we inhabit the better it is for the human race. Just fancy those parts that are at present inhabited by the most despicable specimens of human beings what an alteration there would be if they were brought under Anglo-Saxon influence, look again at the extra employment a new country added to our dominions gives.”

Looking down on the beautiful Mother City.

Looking down on the beautiful Mother City.


Something fishy…

December 22, 2012

Cape Town is truly beautiful, especially in Summer. After visiting my favourite place in the world (Hangberg) we found fresh snoek that just came in (yum!).

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The fishermen and fisherwomen in their butcher boots weren’t quite bothered that the rest of us had open feet while they were hosing down the fish….

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Cleaning and cutting for customers…

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The highlight of my day was when Biggie Boy came to visit. The only tame seal. The others are evil and will attack if you go near to them.

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Biggie Boy was after the fish. The had to close the warehouse to prevent him from causing havoc.

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The unbeatable war on the Cape Flats

September 28, 2012

While civilians in Syria are being wiped out in civil war, Sudan and South Sudan continue their decades-old fight over oil regions and Israeli extremists continue to expel Palestinians from the latter’s homelands, Cape Town is fighting its own war. More specifically, the Cape Flats is fighting a war that would probably never end. Ever. Especially not when politicians find this as a means to boost their political ambitions. This is the war on drugs and gangsterism.

Over recent years I have spoken to heartbroken mothers whose children are/were drug addicts. With tears in their eyes many said they would rather see their children dead than drug-crazed. One Mitchells Plain mother nearly stabbed her son with a scissors after he tried to rape her.

I’ve spent many days in Hanover Park, Manenberg, Bonteheuwel, Lavender Hill and other gang hotspots where people living there expressed their frustration at how rapidly gangsterism is spreading. They are always claiming that ward councillors and all the spheres of government are doing nothing.

The worst is speaking to a mother whose husband is in and out of Pollsmoor and her children as young as 12 are recruited in gangs. As an outsider your first reaction may be that it’s just a case of all-round bad parenting. Others may suggest rehabilitation or that children should just not engage with the wrong people. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as that. Believe me when I say that gangsterism is really quite a complex issue.

The City of Cape Town boasts of so many interventions it has in place to curb gangsterism. The latest one set to be piloting in Hanover Park is Operation Ceasefire, a Chicago-based initiative meant to contain violence. After the first gunshot sounds, community members appointed as Violence Interrupters, who are known by neighbours and gangsters, must try to steer the situation into a direction where rival gangs would not retaliate. This is said to have halved gun violence in Chicago.

It’s all good and well to implement programmes that directly combat gang violence. But without addressing the root causes, you’re fighting a losing battle. Yes, local and provincial governments have sport and recreational activities for children in impoverished communities to keep them occupied. Yes, there are job creation programmes – it may not pay much but it does still pay. And yes, there are continuous drug raids and arrests in all the gang hotspots.

The rate at which gangsterism is spreading far outweighs the number of programmes government implements. While children are being raised in poverty because of vast unemployment, becoming a gang member will always be a temptation. As the children of the veteran gangsters become teenagers they are forced into the gang that is their father’s rival. If they don’t join they could end up dead. In the end, father and son who now belong to rival gangs live the rest of their lives hunting each other down. A leader of a well known gang on the Cape Flats once explained in painful detail how a rival gang beat his son to a pulp until he joined them. Each time gang wars reach their peak, flesh and blood shoot on each other.

All too often, when speaking about their rivals, gang bosses will tell you “sit ons almal op ‘n veld, dan sal ons vir hulle klaar maak,” (put us all on a field and we will finish them all off). While children are increasingly becoming involved in gangsterism, some leaders say they have had enough. No matter how badly they want to leave this lifestyle behind, they can’t. They are the young ones’ fatal targets.

Earlier in the year when war once again broke out on the Cape Flats and when residents lived in fear daily, the Western Cape Department of Community Safety launched an appeal to the national police ministry to have the army deployed to curb the violence. At a time when several innocent people, including children, already lost their lives in cross-fire, national government didn’t see the problem to be serious enough to deploy additional resources. The way I see it, only more deaths would have seen that the defence force is deployed.

Last week, in the wake of the Marikana saga, President Jacob Zuma announced the army would now be assisting the police with their work, a decision welcomed by the Western Cape government. It is still not yet known if the army will be deployed in the gang-ridden areas.

So while the war rages on on the Cape Flats, politics will always stand in the way of finding real, tangible solutions. Politicians’ decisions are made to further their own careers, always to the detriment of the poor, the helpless and the oppressed.

Originally published here.