Regrets about leaving SA?October 28, 2006
Submitted by Yvonne Amato, Charlotte, NC
In one of a number of articles he has written about the crises facing South Africa, he said: "For 12 years after our first democratic elections held in 1994, resulting in Nelson Mandela becoming president, I went out of my way to assure people inside and outside the country who had doubts about the new South Africa that we were moving in the direction of democracy, truth and justice, and that the darker by-products of the change were temporary and superficial accidents. I can no longer do that."
While South Africa has bathed in the accolade of the Rainbow Nation since the end of apartheid in 1994, a torrent of commentators and swathes of the general public now say that the rainbow's end has been reached and the nation is sliding back into the storm. Just this month , Nobel Peace Prize winner archbishop Desmond Tutu said the country had lost its "moral compass and reverence for life".
He said: "Is it not horrendous for an adult man to rape a nine-month-old baby? [a reference to the country's plague of baby rape in the belief that sex with infants cures Aids] What has come over us?" Like many South Africans, Brink is appalled by violent crime levels that are seemingly out of control - he finally felt impelled to speak out when his own daughter, son-in-law and their children were caught in a restaurant hold-up of the sort that has become a near-everyday occurrence. Five men armed with pistols stormed the Cape Town restaurant where his daughter's family were dining; ordered everyone to lie face down on the floor and strip themselves of rings, jewelry, watches, cell phones and wallets. The men then emptied the safe and cash register and beat up and kicked the customers before herding them into a small back room, locking it and making their escape.
Apart from a single paragraph in a small community newspaper, the incident was not reported. "It is too insignificant," said Brink, "too banal, too commonplace in the new South Africa. No-one has been killed, no-one raped. It will not even rate as a statistic." South Africa now ranks alongside Colombia, Chechnya and the occupied Palestinian Territories as among the most violent places on earth. In a new report, the South African Institute of Race Relations said that one million whites have left the country in the past decade.
This is partly because of the escalating violence, but also because they see no future in a country once proclaimed as "non-racist" but which has implemented a damaging raft of reverse-racist policies with similarities to those adopted by past white governments. Most of those quitting are highly skilled people such as doctors, nurses and engineers and young people born too late to have ever voted in the apartheid era.
More whites began packing their bags for Europe, North America and Australasia when justice minister Charles Nqakula, responding to a question about the scores of daily murders and hundreds of daily rapes, told parliament that those who complained about crime were unpatriotic moaners". He went on: "They can continue to whinge until they're blue in the face or they can simply leave this country." The justice minister's implication was that only whites "whinged" about the rampant violence. But most of those raped, mugged and killed are black people . One woman, who had been gang-raped and mugged by fellow blacks, and who lives in a paralysis of fear in her township, wrote to a newspaper asking: "Where, honourable minister, do you suggest I go?"
And last week it was too late for 15-month-old Khensani Miteleni to consider going anywhere - she and her mother were caught in one of the near-daily wild west-style gunfights that make Johannesburg's city centre resemble a war zone. Eight black gunmen attacked three black security guards making a cash pick-up from a black-owned shop. In the subsequent shoot-out, five black pedestrians were severely wounded and Khensani Miteleni, wrapped in a blanket on her mother's back, had her head shattered by a bullet from an AK-47. She was buried in Soweto on Friday.
Violence is just one element of the developing South African crisis: A vicious succession battle for supremacy is underway inside the ruling African National Congress; thousands of people die of Aids each week and thousands more become infected while president Thabo Mbeki and his health minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, deny there is any link between the HIV virus and Aids and the rand has collapsed faster than any other currency this year amid fears that former vice-president Jacob Zuma, who narrowly escaped conviction for rape and is currently on trial for fraud and corruption, will become the next president.
As South Africa slid off the rainbow, one leading newspaper columnist warned: "We have all been lulled into a sense of false security over the past 12 years. We look north to Zimbabwe with pitying eyes and tell ourselves it couldn't happen here. "Well, my friends, the seeds have been sown. Just wait for the harvest."