Monday, March 28, 2011

Local Government elections - a process to a "better life for all" or a chance for opportunists to continue to filch ratepayers' money?

Local government elections

By Marimuthu Subramoney
(aka Subry Govender)

There's now a mad and sometimes unseemly rush by political parties and their candidates to garner the votes of the people for the Local Government elections on May 18. The political leaders, their underlings and the candidates are making all kinds of promises to hoodwink, mainly the uninformed and the gullible.
They are also using all kinds of tricks - such as beryani and t-shirts - to seduce the poor and the vulnerable.
While a few candidates enter the fray out of their genuine commitment to providing a service to ratepayers, the majority see the opportunity of becoming councillors as a road to amassing wealth and enriching their families, friends and other hangers-on. It's because of this we now see the growing trend among political party members to rebel against certain candidates chosen to contest the elections.
Most of them also want to climb the bandwagon and, therefore, find it difficult to accept certain incumbents who have been chosen as candidates once again.
Being a servant of the people is of secondary importance to most of the party loyalists.
When one looks at the tamasha today, one is duty bound to ask what has happened to the "struggle culture"? Has it been thrown out of the window?
Just before the first democratic local government elections in 1996, the country's first democratic president and struggle icon, Nelson Mandela, reminded the people that they should hold municipalities and councillors accountable for service delivery. He went onto say that as ratepayers, they have a right to demand services and to question the inefficiency of council employees. He also called on ratepayers to take a firm stand against fraud, corruption and other underhand happenings.
For the first five years after the 1996 local government elections, most councillors distinguished themselves as "servants" of the people. They were not seduced by high salaries, luxury cars, official lunches, inside information on tenders to enrich oneself and other perks.This was the case because most ANC councillors at that time had a "struggle" background and they were committed to the principle of "a better life for all".
Unfortunately, over the past 15 years most of these councillors have left the scene. They have now been succeeded by people who have no track record of being involved in the "struggle" and by other opportunists who have jumped from one political party to another and to another.
Some of the "struggle" councillors who still remain have also lost their moral compass.
The result is that in most cases being a "servant" of the people has been replaced by the hunger to promote one's personal well-being and ego.
Unlike 15 years ago, many voters, including former activists, are no longer prepared to be taken for granted. They are now questioning the suitability of candidates and whether the candidates will be able to provide services such as cleaner streets, start-up houses for the very poor, sporting facilities, and a crime-free environment. They are not prepared to allow their rates and taxes to continue to be filched by unscrupulous officials, unworthy councillors and their unscrupulous henchmen.
They have had enough of fraud and corruption that has become endemic in the Ethekwini municipality and other councils. They have also become fed up with the double standards of muncipalities. While Ethekwini and other municipalities go out of their way to ensure that places like Umhlanga, Durban North, La Mercy, Umhlali and Ballito are promoted and maintained as "first world" suburbs, they fail to do the same in places like Tongaat and Verulam. They just allow these places to deteriorate and become a haven for criminals.
The voters today have had enough of this double standard and are not going to cast their ballots for questionable candidates, irrespective of their party loyalties.
It seems that the candidates and the political parties concerned will have an uphill batter this time around to convince most ratepayers that they are really "servants" of the people. - Subry Govender, Chief Editor

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ian Mkhize - a human rights campaigner who was even prepared to lay down his life


By Marimuthu Subramoney
(aka Subry Govender)

As South Africa celebrates its commitment to Human Rights (the main day was observed on Monday, March 21), I would like to take this opportunity to pay special tribute to a former human rights activist who died last week at the age of 69.
Ian Winston Sipho Mkhize was an educationist, community leader, and struggle activist who fought and suffered for the human rights of the oppressed people of the black township of Hambanathi and the nearby town Tongaat on the North Coast of the province of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa from 1975 to 1984 and then for the people of South Africa in general until his death a week ago.
He became a house-hold name in 1985 when he and 40 others sought refuge at the Mahatma Gandhi Settlement in Phoenix, near Durban, after being forced to flee Hambanathi by black apartheid agents. At this time he led the campaign against the forced incorporation of Hambanathi into the then KwaZulu bantustan. But Ian Mkhize and his comrades were soon forced to flee the Gandhi Settlement as well when hordes of apartheid agents carried out a cleansing operation to rid the nearby Inanda area of people of Indian-origin. At this time the former National Party Government was embarking on a programme to incorporate Inanda and other "Zulu-dominated" areas in and around Durban into the former KwaZulu bantustan.
The rampaging mobs, after forcing the Indian-origin people to flee for their lives, began to descend on the Gandhi Settlement. Ian Mkhize and his comrades, after being informed of the arrival of the spear-wielding mob, fled in a hurry after staying in the settlement for only two weeks. The plight of Ian Mkhize, his comrades and the Indian-origin people who were forced to flee from their homes made head-line news in South Africa, India and other parts of the world.
Ian Mkhize caught the attention of the people for his bravery and fortitude.
Who was this outstanding individual who refused to allow the oppressive actions of the apartheid regime and their cohorts to deter him?
Born in Pietermaritzburg in 1941, Ian Mkhize moved to Tongaat in the early 1970s after joining the Tongaat Hullett Group as a Personnel Officer. He had earlier worked for the Department of Education after qualifying as a teacher. As an employee of Tongaat Hullett he was offered accommodation at Hambanathi, one of the residential areas for Africans in Tongaat at that time.
He soon became involved in the struggles of the people and agreed to contest the Black Local Council in an attempt to improve the conditions of the township of Hambanathi. He was even elected Mayor in the late 1970s but soon became disillusioned because the apartheid authorities had no intention of developing the township.
He came into contact with local activists such as Siva Naidoo and Logie Naidoo and began to play a crucial role in organising the community of Hambanathi to join the anti-apartheid struggles.
But the apartheid forces had other ideas and he was forced to resign his position at the Tongaat Hullett Group and had to flee Hambanathi township in 1983. Despite his absence, he kept in close contact with his people in Hambanathi and worked with Indian-origin activists in Tongaat.
According to Siva Naidoo, Ian Mkhize took a conscious decision to join the non-governmental sector.
"He became the Executive Chairperson of the Durban Crisis Network, a structure set up primarily to provide support for victims of apartheid. From there he proceeded to join the Diakonia Council of Churches as the Education Programme Officer from 1987 to 1992. It was during this period that Ian provided sterling leadership as Chairperson of the National Education Co-ordinating Committee, just two years after founding the National Education Union of South Africa, the forerunner of SADTU.
"Between 1992 and 1994 Ian was appointed the Provincial Director of SACHED Trust, which was responsible for providing strategic inputs for the transformation of tertiary institutions and the evolution of Community Colleges. From there on Ian became the Provincial Director of Operation Upgrade and later as its Director of External Relations. Operation Upgrade was the premier adult basic education and training outfit in the province."
At the height of the anti-apartheid struggle period in the 1980s and early 1990s, Ian Mkhize assisted in the founding of the Joint Rent Action Committee (JORAC) and became its Publicity Secretary. As a leading anti-apartheid exponent, he ensured that JORAC and the Durban Housing Committee (DHAC) became two of the most important constituents of the UDF.
Because of his work he was placed under surveillance by the former dreaded apartheid security police and was detained in 1986 and 1987 along with activists such as Siva Naidoo and Logie Naidoo.
Ian Mkhize played a vital role in the mobilisation of the people after Nelson Mandela was released from 27 years in prison and after the ANC and other organisations were unbanned in 1990. As a leading NGO activist, Ian Mkhize was part of a team that went to Zimbabwe in 1992 to prepare exiles to return home.
Since 1994, after the election of the country's new non-racial democratic government, Ian Mkhize received a number of accolades in recoginition of his anti-apartheid activities. These include recoginition in 1997 in the Tribute Magazine's "Roll of persons contributing to the well-being of South Africa". In the same year he received a merit award by the former University of Durban-Westville for his outstanding role in the struggle for human rights.
In 1992 the Tongaat Civic Association presented him with a Civic Award for his outstanding contribution to community service. And in October 2000 the University of Durban-Westville conferred on him an Honorary Doctorate in the Faculty of Humanities. This was in recoginition of his contributions to the struggle for "a fair, just and equitable system of education" for all South Africans.
Siva Naidoo, in his tribute, described Ian Mkhize as a struggle activist and humanitarian who was "totally committed to the struggle for freedom and democracy".
"He was so committed to the freedom struggle that he was prepared to pay the highest price. He was also a democrat in a true sense of the word and eschewed all forms of racism."
Ian Mkhize was indeed a true son of Tongaat and South Africa. One hopes that other former activists who worked with him and also those from other parts of the country will strive to live the life of Ian Mkhize to the full instead of using the new democracy to promote their egos and to enrich themselves through corrupt means.

Monday, March 14, 2011


By Marimuthu Subramoney
(aka Subry Govender)

"A new South Africa would be meaningless if the problems of the millions of poor people were not tackled. The perks of a new government are not really appealing to me. For me what is important is the continuation of the struggle - and we must accept that the struggle is always continuing."
These noble words were spoken by one of the greatest sons of South Africa, Chris Hani, just before he was cruelly gunned down by a gang of white right-wingers at his home in Boksburg in 1993.
Hani, who was tipped at that time to take over from Nelson Mandela as the leader of the ANC and the country, was merely espousing the core values, principles and commitment of a movement that had captured the imagination of the people. Hani, Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Ahmed Kathrada, and hundreds of other liberation leaders wanted to build a new South Africa where people would work hard to build a peaceful and prosperous society and a better life for all.
Unfortunately and to the disillusionment of the committed activists and leaders of our great freedom movement, thousands of others, including sadly many former activists, who saw the dawn of the new South Africa to enrich themselves, their families and their cronies.
A former spokesperson of the ANC and Head of the ANC Presidency, Smuts Ngonyama, shocked most people, including some committed ANC leaders, when he highlighted the new trend by making the following astonishing statement:
"We didn’t struggle to be poor."
He made the shocking statement when it was disclosed that he was part of a company called, Elephant Consortium, which had been granted a Telkom tender. Ngonyama’s share was a staggering R50-million.
The scandalous statement by Ngonyama merely confirmed the rot to which many members and leaders of the ruling ANC have descended to enrich themselves, their families and their cronies. Over the past few years this decay has infiltrated almost every sector of government departments at local, provincial and national levels.
This despite the fact leaders such as former President Thabo Mbeki and current President Jacob Zuma identifying corruption as the main contributory factor to the increase of poverty. In an address to an international forum on corruption in Johannesburg just before being booted out by the ANC at its national conference in Polokwane in 2007, Mbeki highlighted the fact that corruption was not undertaken by the poor but by those who wield financial and political power.
He said: "In many instances corruption serves as a sufficient condition for the further entrenchment of poverty, negating the potential for development. We know of many examples where corruption robs a large section of humanity of their right to homes, food, transport, education, health, clean water and many other essential services."
How true! But it seems the likes of Ngonyama have forgotten about improving the lives of the poor and the disadvantaged majority. They only have a single mindset now - to amass as much wealth as possible, in the shortest time possible, and the manner in which they derive the wealth is of little significance.
In addition to Ngonyama, other ANC bigwigs and their families who have climbed the millionaire and billionaire bandwagon include Tokyo Sexwale, who is now the Minister of Human Settlement; Duduzane Zuma, the son of President Zuma, who has become a billionaire overnight by entering into a partnership with the Guptas in a BEE deal with the world’s steel giants, ArcelorMittal; and at the local level, two daughters of Durban Mayor Obed Mlaba, who reportedly are linked a R3-billion deal with the Ethekwini municipality.
The hyenas and scoundrels have become so entrenched that for every local government tender there’s an official who is soaked in bribery and corruption. This is illustrated by the experience of a former policeman who lives in KwaMashu, Durban. When he took early retirement in 2008, he started a construction company in order to keep himself busy and earn a livelihood.
He applied for a number of tenders to the municipality but was not amused with the reception he received at the hands of those in charge of the tenders.
He said: "After I forwarded my last tender, I received a call from an official who told me that I would be given the contract on condition I delivered R500 000 in cash to his house. I was not shocked but just disappointed.
"I never thought this will happen in our new South Africa where people working in government departments would become so caught up in the world of corruption and bribery. If I gave the official R500 000 where would I get the money to continue my work as a contractor?
"Corruption is taking its toll on our lives."
Corruption has now become so ingrained that one of the struggle leaders of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s inside the country, retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu, spoke out very strongly once again against the situation recently.
Speaking at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, he said:
"Perhaps the Gupta family would make all those lucrative deals and it is merely coincidental that the president's son is a beneficiary. It may be above board, but it is worrisome.
“The country has tremendous potential, but is being dragged backwards by corruption.”
Where have we gone wrong? What has happened to all the values and principles we fought so valiantly for during the hurly burly days of the struggle? Has it been thrown out of the window so that political leaders, their families, friends and their cronies can rake in millions and billions without BREAKING A SWEAT?
We cannot afford in the new South Africa to have a few thousand filthy rich people – black and white – while at the same time there are more than 12-and-half-million people unemployed, more than 15 million struggling on government grants and hand outs and millions others barely making ends meet.
President Zuma and the ANC Government must root out corruption if we are to save our beautiful South Africa from the problems currently being experienced by countries in North Africa and the Middle East.- Subry Govender

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Let us not allow the emergence of "H F Verwoerds" of a different hues in the new democratic South Africa

Ms Kavisha Ramlall(not her real name) is a 25-year-old lass from Sea Tides in Tongaat on the North Coast. After completing her matriculation at the Sea Tides Secondary School with excellent marks in 2002, she pursued a degree in environmental management at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Thereafter, she proceeded to Pretoria University where she completed her Honours and is now in the process of submitting her final papers for a Masters.

Since obtaining her Honours degree two years ago she has responded to vacancies in her field advertised by several local, provincial and national government departments and the private sector. Her applications number more than 50. But to date, she has not been successful in obtaining a single position and has also not received a single letter of acknowledgement to her applications. The sad part of her story is that the country needs people to work in the environmental field. She has not been given an opportunity to play her role in contributing to the environmental development of the country.

Like Kavisha Ramlall, there are scores or hundreds of other highly-skilled graduates who have been unsuccessful in obtaining jobs in their fields of speciality in KwaZulu-Natal.

Ramlall and many other young people in the same situation have not followed in the footsteps of thousands of other young people who have migrated to the Johannesburg-Pretoria region in search of jobs and opportunities.

Most of the young people who made the move to the Johannesburg-Pretoria region since the early 1990s have done exceptionally well for themselves. They are occupying top jobs in all fields in the private sector and government utilities like Escom. Many others have become very successful business people.

They were forced to move to Johannesburg-Pretoria region not only in search of greater opportunities, but also because opportunities were drying up in their home province of KwaZulu-Natal.

They seem to have had a golden era for the past 20 years or so through sheer hard work, determination and sacrifice. They have achieved this position despite the fact that most of these young people lack the support of the extended family system that one enjoys in Durban and other areas of KZN.

But they too are now feeling the impact of the "job quota system" and they have been told in no uncertain terms that the Employment Equity Act will have to be implemented effectively.

"There's too many Charoes", and "This company looks Durban" are some of the latest comments they have to contend with.

Getting back to Kavisha Ramlall and others in her situation, one would have to ask the obvious question, what will be their future now that the Government is determined to amend the Employment Equity Act in order to get rid of regional demographic considerations in favour of national demographic benchmarks?

This means that whereas currently the "job quota" for people like Kavisha Ramlall is around 10 percent in KwaZulu-Natal and more than 50 percent for the coloured people in the Western Cape, the introduction of the Employment Equity Amendment Bill would mean that the Kavisha Ramlalls would have to contend with the new national quota of three percent for Indian-origin people and around 10,9 percent for coloured people.

The move by the Government has been highlighted by the row over a statement by Government chief spokesperson, Jimmy Manyi. When he was the director general of the Department of Labour, it's reported that he had said there were too many "coloureds" in the Western Cape and that they should move elsewhere.

Our struggle stalwart, Trevor Manuel, who is a Minister in the Presidency, lashed out at Manyi, accusing him of him being a "racist" in the mould of H F Verwoerd, the first white Prime Minister who legalised apartheid.

It's not known whether Manuel entered the fray as part of a desperate ANC strategy to do "damage control" and to try to regain the lost "coloured" support in the Western Cape or because of his previously known values, principles and commitment to non-racialism and democracy. It will only be a matter of time before we come to know the truth.

Manyi did not only put his "foot in his mouth" over the "coloured" issue, but he also made a desperaging remark against the Indian-origin community when he remarked at a Durban Chamber of Commerce meeting in Durban about a year ago that "Indian people had bargained their way to the top echelons of management in the private sector".

It's because of the "racist" mentality of the types of Manyi and now with the proposed new Employment Equity Act Amendment Bill, the likes of Kavisha Ramlall and others will continue to find it difficult to find jobs and make a contribution to the economic and social development of our new non-racial democracy.

It's a well-established fact that just as the "coloured" community are in the majority in the Western Cape, people of Indian-origin are predominant in Durban and other parts of KwaZulu-Natal. If the quota system is changed from regional to national, then it will be back to the bad old days of racial discrimination and marginalisation.

When comrade Trevor Manuel came out very strongly against Jimmy Manyi to ensure that our non-racial and democratic constitution is not trampled in any way, one would have thought that our comrades from KwaZulu-Natal and Johannesburg who had fought with Manuel during the days of United Democratic Front(UDF) and after the ANC was unbanned, would have come forward to also express their disgust and disquiet.

Their deadly silence is earth shattering and worrying. It says a lot about their commitment to the values and principles of the struggle era. Now that they are well-located economically, socially and politically in their new cushy positions, have they forgotten their values and principles for which they fought the struggle?

As part of the constituency that played a significant role in the struggle for a non-racial democracy, I believe it's imperative and of importance that the Government take due and appropriate action to provide greater opportunities for the vast majority of people who have been marginalised and discriminated during the apartheid era. All South Africans must support this process fully and totally.

But at the same time, I do not believe that laws should be introduced in such a way that it's seen as "racist" by people within the Indian-origin and coloured communities.

We fought the racism of the "H F Verwoerds" against all odds and won. Let us now in our new democracy not allow the emergence of the "H F Verwoerds" of different hues. The Jimmy Manyis, the Paul Ngobes, and the Julius Malemas must be called to account for their reckless "racist" statements. - Marimuthu Subramoney (aka Subry Govender), PoliticalJournalist and Editor.

ntl/ honours / masters

safety health environment

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Southside FM Newsletter 1


P.O. Box 486 Tel: 031 - 568 1309
Verulam 4340 Cell: 082 376 9053

March 2 2011

It has been a long and hard struggle. Ever since community members and representatives of organisations decided in October 2009 to initiate the launch of a radio station for South Africans whose mother tongues are Tamil and Telugu, the committed committee members have worked tirelessly and against many odds in trying to obtain a community radio licence.
The committed committee members who have continued the struggle and met regularly to move the process forward are:

1. Mr Balan Govender, who although stating that he had joined the movement in a personal capacity, is the president of the MTTS and currently the president of the KwaZulu-Natal Tamil Federation.
2. Mr Swaminathan Gounden, veteran political activist.
3. Mr Seelan Archary, who is the chairman of the Mount Edgecombe Mariammen Temple.
4. Ms Thirupuriesundrie Govender, an active Tamil scholar.
5. Mr Richard Naidoo, an executive member of the Andhra Maha Sabha of South Africa and community leader.
6. Ms Keresha Govender, a young cultural exponent from Tongaat.
7. Mr Sagie Naidoo, a strong cultural and religious leader.
8. Mr Marimuthu Subramoney(aka Subry Govender), veteran political journalist and former struggle activist who initiated the process.

In order to obtain a community radio licence, we had to embark on a strenuous road to address cultural and religious organisations; obtain a petition of support from individuals, organisations and business leaders; communicate with organisations in India, interact with the Indian Consul General in Durban, and interact with Sentech, ICASA, and the Department of Social Welfare's Non-Profit Organisation(NPO) section.

NPO Application
This process took sometime and we first submitted an application for NPO status in May 2010. The response was positive and on September 22 2010, we received confirmation that our application was successful and that we would receive the documentation at the end of November.
Once we obtained this confirmation we embarked on the next process to obtain a community radio licence. But first we had to negotiate with Sentech and ICASA for an FM frequency. ICASA gave us two frequencies which we had submitted to Sentech, for they are the ones responsible for connecting us to the airwaves.
Sentech assured us that once we were granted the licence, the company would instal the necessary equipment for us to broadcast. This, they said, would cost about R45 000.

ICASA Licence Application
With the NPO confirmation and the assurance from Sentech, we went about putting together our application to ICASA for a class community licence. We collected and collated the necessary supporting documents from members of the community, organisations, and business people; drafted the required constitution; Business Plan; and other necessary documents. We submitted our application by special registered mail to ICASA offices in Sandton, Johannesburg, sometime in November 2010.

Soon after we submitted our application, ICASA came back to us to advise us that we had to lodge a deposit of R3 000. Since we had no money and had not even opened an account at this stage, we managed to obtain a loan from a supporter. This deposit was duly paid to ICASA in December.

More NPO Development
No sooner had we submitted our application to ICASA for the radio licence, we received notification from the NPO office that we had to submit more information. This we had done in January 2011 and our application is currently with the NPO office. They have informed us by letter that our application for NPO status is being attended to and we will be informed soon.

Support from prominent business leaders
While our application for an ICASA licence was being considered, the committee embarked on a process to speak to business leaders for their support. We had met and discussed our initiative with one of the country's most prominent business leaders. The business leader in question assured us that he supported us 100 percent and even offered us premises from where to broadcast.
We thereafter received support from another prominent businessman, who is making his mark in the business world.
We also held discussions with other community leaders, who gave us their support.
We will disclose the names of the prominent business leaders at a special function as soon as we receive our broadcast licence.

Opening of Bank Account
In anticipation of us being granted a licence, we proceeded to open an account at FNB in Durban North. Ms Keresha Govender, Mr Balan Govender and Mr M. Subramoney are signatories to the account.

More ICASA documents
We were under the impression that all our work was now over and that were were only awaiting our ICASA licence and the NPO certificate. But ICASA came back to us in February 2011 to inform us that they need further information and more documents from us. ICASA wanted more information and clarification regarding our target market, the numbers involved, the area of initial broadcast, an ORGANOGRAM of our radio organisation, and supporting documents from the two business leaders who indicated their support for us.
This process did not take much time and on March 2 2011 we submitted all the required documents to ICASA by registered mail.

The road ahead
We now have to await another month or two before we are informed of our application.
We have decided that as soon as we granted a licence, we would call a meeting of all those who have supported us and also hold a grand fund-raising dinner.
We want to thank all those who have supported us and those who have given pledges of support once our licence is granted.
Anyone wishing more information, please contact:

M. Subramoney

Committee members: M. Subramoney, Ms Thirupurisundrie Govender(Secretary), Ms Keresha Govender(Treasurer/Asst Secretary), Mr Richard Naidoo, Mr Balan Govender, Mr Swaminathan Gounden, Mr Seelan Archary, Sagie Naidoo

Tuesday, March 1, 2011




In the village of Tea Estate near the North Coast town of Verulam in South Africa a man, only known as Bhakabhaka, is butchered by a gang of thugs on January 28. Six days later on February 3 at Everest Heights in the Verulam town Verulam itself, 82-year-old Mrs Minambal Baker is strangled to death in her home by callous and vicious criminals.
About 10km further north in the town of Tongaat, a 20-year-old youth, Kriben Moodley, is shot dead by armed gunmen in a senseless murder on February 19 while trying to protect his sister and girl-friend in the local suburb of Belvedere.
Then we have groups of thugs raiding the home of Mrs J H Mtungwa in Verulam town on February 10, the home of Mr A M Debipersad in Buffelsdraai, near the town of Verulam, on February 11, one the same day they break into the local Zenzeleni Primary School; in Tongaat they hold up the Krish Suredin family in the suburb of Watsonia on February 2.
In all the break-ins, the violent thugs use firearms and other weapons to kill, threaten to kill, and tie-up homeowners before escapaing with tv sets, jewellery, cash, and other valuables.
What is even more frightening is that the armed criminals and bandits spare no one, not even those who have been part and parcel of bringing about our new non-racial democracy and police officers as well.
Anti-apartheid political activist and stalwart, Siva Naidoo, and his son, were held up at their home in the suburbs Watsonia in Tongaat recently. The armed thugs got away with jewellery and other valuables.
Then last week, criminals broke into the home of Tongaat SAPF media liaison officer, Warrant Officer Mandy Govender, and escaped with goods worth thousands of rand.
The criminals have become so fearless that they even make their way into people's homes in broad day light and in full view of the public. This is what happened in Redcliffe in Verulam last week when criminals got into the home of an elderly couple, held them up at knife-point and demanded that the couple hand over jewellery and other goods.
These are just some of the latest incidents that one is aware of. There are still countless other incidents that are not reported to the police or the police just don't bother to release to the media.
The crime rate, especially violent crime, has become a cause for concern over the past 20 years or so. It's reported that more people have been killed during incidents of violent crime than at any time before.
According to sources, the crime rate in Phoenix, Verulam, Tongaat, Stanger, Chakas Rock and Ballito on the North Coast, other areas of KwaZulu-Natal and South Africa in general has just escalated over the past few months and "gone out of control".
What's the reason for this atrocity? Are these areas on the North Coast being targeted for a specific reason?
Are the police not doing their work?
While the national police commissioner, General Bheki Cele; the Police Minister, Nathi Mthethwa; and President Jacob Zuma have called on the police "to loose their bellies" in the fight against criminals, the crime rate just escalates.
There may be many honest and hard-working police officers around, but it seems they are just too overwhelmed by the run-away crime wave.
At the same time the impression given is that the some police officers just "don't care" because they receive their salaries at the end of each month and they don't have to put in the extra effort. Whether the police are committed or not they will still be paid. The image is that they only take down complaints and thereafter leave the reports to gather dust in their files.
Many residents believe that private security pesonnel are more on the job and effective than police officers. They point out if the police were doing their jobs properly, then there would be no need for private security companies in almost every town and locality of the country.
When we fought for our freedom from white minority rule and domination, we were committed to the ideal of a free society where people would live without any fear of criminals or other members of society. Sadly now we have to live like prisoners in our own homes. And even living behind high walls, electrified fences, alarm systems and armed response boards don't seem to be a deterrent to the criminals.
There's no doubt that socio-economic conditions like unemployment and poverty also contribute to the crime situation. But the question that boggles the mind is this: If you are in need of food, why don't you register with the social welfare department or ask for help from charitable institutions, religious organisations or welfare agencies?
Why does one have to resort to breaking into people's homes, hold up the residents, open fire and kill, and steal goods that taxpayers and ratepayers have purchased through their hard-earned income?
Have we lost all sense of morality and concern for other people's lives and properties? Has stealing and killing become the culture among the miscreants and misfits?
The message must go out to the police and the government - national, provincial and local - that enough is enough. This is the limit and we cannot take it any longer.
If they cannot do the job, then they must vacate their positions. We cannot allow our country to be reduced to the status of a failed, corrupt and miserable third world state. - Subry Govender, Political Journalist and Editor