Category Archives: Politics

Chaos in a place of sanctuary

I wrote this a few years ago and republish it every year. Lest we forget.

Today, 25 July, is 18 years since the St. James Massacre.

1993 was a dark and difficult time for South Africa. Bombs, attacks, APLA and the third force all trying their best to derail negotiations. Our transition was a miracle and relatively peaceful, but many innocent people still died violently.

Boipatong, Shell House, Heidelberg, the abortive AWB coup attempt in Bophuthatswana and the Jan Smuts airport bomb, all fomented fear.

St. James Church sticks in the consciousness.

It wasn’t a factional attack or one hoping to draw attention to grievances (the PAC denied it APLA was responsible for a long time).  The church had a multicultural congregation, made up of many races and different nationalities. The attack’s intention was not to make a statement, but just to cause sheer, destabilising terror.

11 people were killed and 58 were injured. Two brothers died trying to save others. A Russian sailor lost both his legs. A man who had been forced out of District 6 watched his wife bleed to death in front of him.

I remember it each year and still can’t comprehend it.

Sure, the APLA cadres apologised, rationalised and were granted amnesty by the TRC. One of the survivors, Charl Van Wyk, and Letlapa Mphahlele, the APLA Commander who ordered the attack, have even spoken at reconciliation events together.

But still, valid or not, all the reasons and explanations feel inadequate. They don’t really matter, they’re just vapour on a stain. A stain that fades but won’t go away.

A History Forgotten Is A Future Lost

These new ads for the Apartheid Museum are clever. They obviously didn’t cost a fortune and clearly demonstrate the rather worrying fact that many young people don’t know our history.

I love advertising like this – it doesn’t just sell, it starts a conversation. Well done TBWA/Hunt/Lascaris.

SpeakZA: Bloggers For A Free Press

Sipho Hlongwane has called on all bloggers to protest the flagrant disregard the ANCYL has shown towards a free press. As a citizen of South Africa who values our remarkable Constitution, I’m proud to support this call. Below is the editorial and the list of blogs that support this initiative.

“Last week, shocking revelations concerning the activities of the ANC Youth League spokesperson Nyiko Floyd Shivambu came to the fore. According to a letter published in various news outlets, a complaint was laid by 19 political journalists with the Secretary General of the ANC, against Shivambu. This complaint letter detailed attempts by Shivambu to leak a dossier to certain journalists, purporting to expose the money laundering practices of Dumisani Lubisi, a journalist at the City Press. The letter also detailed the intimidation that followed when these journalists refused to publish these revelations.

We condemn in the strongest possible terms the reprisals against journalists by Shivambu. His actions constitute a blatant attack on media freedom and a grave infringement on Constitutional rights. It is a disturbing step towards dictatorial rule in South Africa.

We call on the ANC and the ANC Youth League to distance themselves from the actions of Shivambu. The media have, time and again, been a vital democratic safeguard by exposing the actions of individuals who have abused their positions of power for personal and political gain.

The press have played a vital role in the liberation struggle, operating under difficult and often dangerous conditions to document some of the most crucial moments in the struggle against apartheid. It is therefore distressing to note that certain people within the ruling party are willing to maliciously target journalists by invading their privacy and threatening their colleagues in a bid to silence them in their legitimate work.

We also note the breathtaking hubris displayed by Shivambu and the ANC Youth League President Julius Malema in their response to the letter of complaint. Shivambu and Malema clearly have no respect for the media and the rights afforded to the media by the Constitution of South Africa. Such a response serves only to reinforce the position that the motive for leaking the so-called dossier was not a legitimate concern, but a insolent effort to intimidate and bully a journalist who had exposed embarrassing information about the Youth League President.

We urge the ANC as a whole to reaffirm its commitment to media freedom and other Constitutional rights we enjoy as a country.”

Blog Roll

Bloggers For a Free Press

I’m saddened by what I see happening to the ANC – a disciplined organisation with a proud legacy having its principles subverted for greed and power.

I was privileged enough to interview Dorothy Molefi (Hector Pieterson’s mother) a few years ago and it makes me angry to see the spoilt brats and bullies of the ANCYL acting like they know what suffering is about. The youth of 1976 gave up their education to fight for freedom. It seems the ANCYL gave up theirs for tenders.

And now they are threatening the Fourth Estate, the very structure that tried to let the world know what was happening in South Africa. Luckily, in the age of information and the internet, this is not as easy as blacking out newsprint.

Sipho Hlongwane is calling on bloggers to protest the ANC Youth League’s attacks on press freedom. An editorial will be released tomorrow on numerous South African blogs, including this one. If you’re a blogger who would like to be a part of this, email or contact him on Twitter. The hashtag is #SpeakZA.