A Moment of Silence in honour of #94_Esidimeni

As I’m writing this article, I’m once again reminded of the words by Fatima Butto during the One Young World Summit in 2013 when she said to us, the global youth: “You are either compassionate to everyone or you’re not. You don’t get to choose”.

Indeed, the recent nerve pinching episode of our beloved families in Gauteng psychiatric facilities leading to 94 dead people has no other logical justification except corruption. 

To others amongst ourselves, who at times find ourselves in the company of pseudo-politicians, can narrate how public service processes are sometimes expedited by the political principals.

Indeed, we’re reminded of how government tenders and jobs are shared in backrooms among the politically connected individuals and elite groups prior publication in the public space.

The well networked and connected individuals get informed about government plans, get advised to register their entities in the sector specific to qualify for projects tendering followed by in-house private festivities celebrating corruption victory over tenders. The fruits of the long walk to freedom.

According to news reports, the Esidimeni patients were inconveniently transported to a ‘fly-by-night’ NGO, with others placed without their medical records. What’s rather disheartening is the fact that, health professionals get registered and are regulated under strict laws in the country thus it leaves us mind-boggled as to why weren’t there any caring health professional to stand up against this malicious damage to humanity in any of the centres?

What’s rather sad is the continuous practise of institutionalising mediocrity, thus insulting ourselves as a nation in the eyes of the international community by constantly breaking national and international rules in critical sectors affecting ourselves. And worst of all, by people who went to school for years, being trained to abide and adhere to such laws.

It’d be argued that the officials at the Gauteng Department of Health weren’t aware of the developments as they unfolded but, it then begs so many other questions.

Primarily, can we soberly presume that the health officials were on leave from compassion, humanity, and official protocols regarding the handling of the patients?  

Logic dictates that we cannot have patients dying of dehydration and other such basic forms of neglect in the hands of properly trained professionals. If so, the verdict thus suggests that the psychiatric patients were simply dumped in places that were utterly unsuitable and equally ill-equipped to care for them.  

Pending outcomes from investigations conducted into this inhumane series that has already offended our national pride, insulted our national intelligence and degraded our national value systems, should probe the reach to which the sordid greasing of dirty palms played in that horrific episode. We cannot pretend like nothing happened.   

On the other hand, this case is clearly a manifestation of a widespread disease/phenomenon that thrives within our public institutions in the country mainly because the large majority among us, have become a powerless.

If you’ve ever been to a public health institution (clinic/hospital etc) and have never been told that you cannot be helped because there’s no medicine, then lucky you!

The reality is, help is available given the resources our government has but, due to corruption and incompetent staff, services in our public institutions are not rendered. What’s rather unfortunate is the fact that, it’s mostly the poor who are deeply affected by this as they’re constantly sent back home to die.

History is judging us already

I had a deep conversation with my aunt on my way to school the other day, who happens to be an active senior ANC member, about why their league (ANCWL) is forever quiet about the negative developments happening in the country. Fees Must Fall, Esidimeni case among others.

My beloved aunt, who spoke without fear or favour, burst out and said: “You know Koketso, it’s really sad and disappointing for me as your parent, to remain quiet about these but, I owe it to you to be clean and honest. The case of the ANCWL being so quiet is due to the internal differences we have within the league. We’re afraid of one another due to financial powers. Our leader is forever making irrational statements in the media and she seems never to care. We have a woman whose family is working with the Guptas thus they’re not really concerned about negative developments happening in the country because such things don’t affect their immediate family”.

At some point, she admitted that she wouldn’t mind if apartheid comes back asserting that, during apartheid, there were basic primary services for all. People had jobs and there wasn’t so much corruption as we experience today.

What is the point of freedom if I can’t get basic things like that, she argued? 

The conversation with my beloved aunt ended when I had to disembark the car and walk to my morning class. As I walked to class, I was shockingly laughing at her comments, that a senior politician can say such words.

The reality is, people are so fed-up with all the distasteful, unpleasant and unsavoury shenanigans unfolding in public spaces that they regret the advent of the democratic project.

As investigations at the Gauteng Department of Health continue, let’s not forget also that, these malpractices are expedited by our fellows. Seemingly, there’s widespread fraud involving the issuing of fitness permits for vehicles. Driving schools are said to be part of these syndicate in their desire to have as many of their learner drivers getting their licences as soon as possible, regardless of whether they can drive properly or not. The level of the problem is horrific if we consider the fact that this is not only happening in Gauteng, but in many other municipalities throughout the country.

During the 2017 State of the Nation Address, we’re again reminded of the most embarrassing and shameful scenes inside Parliament. That we’re a nation fighting a gigantic headache emanating from a variety of sources, including poor education, a colapsing healthcare system, poverty, inequality, homelessness, unemployment and many other such debilitating defects. And yet all our elected representatives seem to be excelling in are insolence, insults, fisticuffs and vandalism at our national expense. Who do we blame?

As we stand in solidarity with our #94_Esidimeni lost families, let’s stand tall in fighting corruption. Let’s remind ourselves as a nation that, our forebears did not fight against apartheid for things to be like this. Enough is enough.

Koketso Marishane writes as a concerned citizen

Photo credit: iol

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