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LETTER FROM DM168 EDITOR: Darkness sheds light on the sorry state of South Africa

Dear readers,

 What a helluva week this has been. I had to laugh at the exasperation of my 16-year-old son as we were once again stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, waiting to turn off at Atterbury Road in Menlyn, Pretoria, in a vain attempt to get him to school on time. “Mom, I go to sleep, there are no lights. I wake up, there are no lights. I come home from school, there are no lights. Now I realise our country is totally messed up.”

 Shame. My son is the way all children should be. So happily and obliviously engaged in his life of music, school, friends, fun and anime, with a dash of emergent social justice wokeness thrown in, that the daily dread of corruption and political failure that has been the recent focus of my work as a journalist, kind of passed him by. Until now, when the powers that be led us to our state of Stage 5 and 6 powerlessness.

 Late though my son’s realisation is, yes, we are messed up in so many ways. Let me remind you of just a few examples that we worked on at Daily Maverick this week. The endless blackouts. Jacob Zuma’s desperation to avoid facing the music by using private prosecution against his arms deal prosecutor Advocate Billy Downer and journalist Karyn Maughan, who he accuses of illegally revealing the medical condition that led to his parole. The collapse of our hospitals, the proliferation of potholes, the ever-expanding hunger and poverty crisis, the bribery and corruption in every government department and in particular, the SAPS, which is meant to serve and protect.

 The cloud of dollars floating out of cushions from Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala game farm, for which opposition parties in Parliament are still demanding an explanation. For those of us living on a wage or nothing at all, the image of so much extra cash stashed in cushions sounds like a Mario Puzo best-seller – with his mafia characters cast on an African safari. Funnily enough, the mafia analogy and our current state of affairs are pretty pertinent as my colleague Ferial Haffajee revealed this week. Haffajee wrote about a Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime report that showed South Africa now ranks 19th in the world for the proliferation of organised crime. Ours is now worse than crime in Mexico, Somalia and Libya.

Hell, it seems, is a place we live in right now. The authors of the report offer a sliver of hope – they say we can turn the tide by getting our law in order.

The lead in this week’s DM168 was by our wonderful crime intelligence writer and author Caryn Dolley, who took the time to join the dots and delve into illuminating court documents, which chart the rot of alleged corruption, collusion and fake competition that goes to the very top of the SAPS. Dolley waded through the documents to try to make sense of the allegations against former acting national police commissioner Kgomotso Phahlane, who already faces corruption charges in another case, along with three serving Crime Intelligence officers and two businessmen.

 The good news, dear readers, is that arrests have been made and Dolley writes that “the Investigating Directorate was of the view the arrests of Phahlane and co this week showed its commitment to rooting out rotten apples in the SAPS”.

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Visit Daily Maverick’s home page for more news, analysis and investigations

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We have embarked on a long journey through the purgatory of weeding out the crooked and corrupt, but it has started. Read Dolley’s article to find out more. Write to me at [email protected] to join the debate and share your thoughts on DM168’s Readers’ page.

 On a less complicated road to national recovery, I urge all of you to pre-order our fabulous second MavericKids annual, which has fun and informative stories and activities by our young writers who create the MavericKids supplement for DM168 every week. For every MavericKids Annual Activity Book pre-ordered from the Daily Maverick Shop, we will donate one copy to organisations that support child literacy.

The activity book is packed with 240 pages that cover a range of topics, from our animal friends and the natural world, to art, science and the building blocks of democracy. Each topic is followed by fun activities such as crossword puzzles, sudoku, word searches and various creative projects that children can do alone or with loved ones.

 As we did with Volume 1, we will be collaborating with our distribution partners, Gift of the Givers, who have ensured that these books reach the children and classrooms that need them. In addition, Gift of the Givers will add to the donation by ensuring that every child who receives a donated copy from Daily Maverick also receives a stationery pack filled with things they might need for the year ahead.

 Yours in defence of truth,

Heather

 PS: Tomorrow’s edition marks DM168’s second year of existence – we have been available for two years for your edification and delight. Woo-hoo!!! The paper is officially a toddler.

 Heather Robertson is Daily Maverick 168  editor. The newspaper is available countrywide for R25.

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