Monday, June 30, 2014


NY Times: Sri Lanka's Agony News:Violent Buddhists Starting Riots in Sri Lanka News: Sri Lanka, Human Rights and Ethical Tourism News:Rape as a Weapon in Sri Lanka News:Sri Lanka sifting the earth of the killing fields News: The Truth about Justice in Sri Lanka
While the South African national cricket team, Proteas, under the captaincy of Hashim Amla prepare for their tour of Sri Lanka within the next few days, the Sri Lankan Government and its soldiers continue with their oppression of the Tamil people in the North and East of island country and also with their attacks on Tamil Muslims.
The Sri Lankan army has invaded the land of the Tamils in the North and East of the country, carry out daily raids on people and also use dastardly tactics of rape against Tamil women. All these are attempts to cow the Tamil people into submission. The continuing subjugation and oppression of the Tamil people follows the civil war which ended in 2009 when Sri Lankan soldiers butchered and massacred between 70 000 and 100 000 Tamils. This genocide is now being investigated by a special committee of three international personalities appointed by the UN Human Rights Commissioner, Dr Navi Pillay, who is a South African. Tamils in Sri Lanka, in Tamil Nadu and in diaspora are demanding that the perpetrators of the genocide, including the President Rajapakse and his brother, face the full might of international law at the International Court of Justice at the Hague in Holland.
We in South Africa support this campaign and also for sports and other sanctions to be imposed on Sri Lanka until the Tamil people enjoy full freedom. It's in this regard that the current tour of Sri Lanka by Amla's team is a national and international tragedy. We supported sanctions against apartheid South Africa and now we would have expected the free South Africa to support the freedom of oppressed people in Sri Lanka and other countries in the world. The South African cricket bosses should hand their heads in shame.
The late sports and cricket anti-apartheid activist and cricket administrator,Krish Mackerdhuj, would be turning in his grave at this lack of concern for the human rights of the Sri Lankan Tamil people by Haroon Lorgat and his henchmen.

Sunday, June 29, 2014


“ The most beautiful thing in this world is to see your parents smiling ,and the next best thing is to know r the reason behind that SMILE ” By Subry Govender I had just watched one of the most touching, emotional and mind-awakening Tamil movies on Sun TV. It was about a villager and his wife, their battles to bring up their five sons, the problems they encounter after their sons leave home, and the lack of respect and appreciation shown by three of their daughters-in-law. Life in the village was a struggle and the man and his wife had to literally toil to send their sons to school and to ensure that they become settled in their lives. Their three adult sons - one a teacher, the other a bus driver and the third a small scale trader - leave home and lead separate lives after they marry. The fourth oldest son - the simpleton in the family - ends up in prison after he murders a local shark who tries to take advantage of a young girl related to the family. The fifth son leaves home to continue his studies in Chennai. Left all alone - the father and mother - do their best to continue their lives but over time - the mother takes ill. She and her husband decide to visit their eldest son and his family while on their way to hospital. But the daughter-in-law - although welcoming her in-laws - ends up fighting with her husband over the visit of the two elders and how long they would stay in their home. She demands that her husband's father and mother leave the next day because she was not prepared to look after them. The father overhears what his daughter-in-law has to say and early the next morning, they leave their son's home. "Treat your parents with loving care.... For you will know their value, when you see their empty chair.... ” The son is overcome with sorrow and anguish and tries to console his parents. The villager and his wife then turn up at their second son's home. But here too the daughter-in-law puts up a front when welcoming them. She ends up fighting with her husband and even prevents their baby son from being in the company of her mother-in-law. "I don't want my child to become afflicted with the asthma that your mother is suffering from," she tells her distraught husband. He is not as calm as his elder brother and ends up bashing his wife over her lack of respect for his parents. The villager and his wife once again decide to leave and they return to their home. The villager's wife throws away the medicine she was given for her asthma at the hospital. She ends up preparing a meal with poison that leads to their deaths. In the meantime - the youngest son and his girl-friend unaware of the sufferings of the old people make preparations to fly them to Chennai for medical care. He departs for the village and on the way joins his three married brothers. They end up saving the life of their fourth brother who, after being released from prison, is attacked by family members of the bully he had killed. All five brothers return home to inform their parents about the release of their brother and the good news about their fifth son who had made arrangements for their medical care in Chennai. But to their utter shock and dismay they find both their mother and father dead. At the funeral - the three daughters-in-law - put on a show by shedding crocodile tears. The moral of the story. I'll leave it to you. MOTHER AND LOVING SONS And then while on a visit to the La Lucia Mall in Durban on Sunday, June 29, I noticed something that really instilled a smile and got me thinking. Two young boys, must be aged about 15 or 16, were in the company of their Indian-origin parents. The boys were dressed in smart pants and shirts and wore ties. Their father was also dressed in a suit and tie and their mother looked like a school maam in a blouse and dress. They must have been to a special family function before visiting the mall. I was at this time standing at the front entrance near the underground parking. I was really amazed at the dignified manner in which the boys chatted with their parents while they walked into the mall. Then about five minutes later I saw the family walking out - all smiles but serious. The father walked in the front with his suit coat in his hands. One of the boys had his hands around his mother's shoulders and he was busy chatting with his mother. Then suddenly, the other boy went around and put his hand on his mother's shoulder as well. His brother did not like this at all and pushed his brother's hand away. The other boy gave his brother an angry look and must have said: "This is my mother as well." I just thought to myself what a wonderful show of respect and appreciation that the two boys demonstrated for their mother. At the same time I asked myself: "Would the boys have the same love, respect and admiration for their mother and father once they marry?" I leave this as well to you to answer!

Monday, June 9, 2014


(A view of the Kennedy Road Informal Settlement from the main Kennedy Road) On Tuesday, June 3 this week more than 800 families were evicted from their shack homes by the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) in the Zola informal settlement near Strand, in the Western Cape. Then in another inhuman incident, several hundred people were left homeless in the township of Alexandria in Johannesburg where their homes were also demolished. The evictions, carried out despite the extremely cold and mid winter weather conditions, highlights the pathetic plight of hundreds of thousands of people who try to eke out a living in shack settlements in urban areas in all the cities and towns of South Africa. The evictions also demonstrated the lack of concern for the human rights of shack dwellers. In order to get a detailed and clear picture of the conditions under which shack dwellers, I visited a shack settlement in the city of Durban....... . (WE WANT A BETTER LIFE FOR OURSELVES AND OUR CHILDREN) By Subry Govender The Kennedy Road Informal Settlement, situated in the Sydenham area of coastal city of Durban in South Africa, is one of the oldest shack settlements in the city. It came into existence more than 20 years ago when rural people began to move to urban areas in droves to seek employment and a better life for themselves and their families after the dawn of our new democracy and freedom in 1994. When I drove down Kennedy Road from the main Sydenham Road, I was shocked and disgusted at what greeted me. There was literally thousands of shacks built on top of one another, stretching for several hundred metres down a hill from the top of a dumping site. The shacks are built of wood and iron, tin and in some cases tarpaulin. In this congested settlement, more than twelve thousand men, women and children eke out an existence. They have to contend with the unhealthy and polluted smoke that billows out of the dumping site and have to make do with public toilets that are situated on at least two spots on one side of Kennedy Road. There are also other public toilets inside the settlement itself. The hapless residents also have to make do with running water from communal taps. The residents also have no electricity and they have to resort to obtaining power illegally by connecting wires to street lights and electricity boxes. On the days I visited the Kennedy Road informal settlement at the end of May and early June, I noticed a few children, some as young as two and three-years-old crossing the road without any supervision, women doing their washing at the public taps, taxis driving slowly - dropping off and picking up passengers, and small-business owners plying their wares from make-shift shops. One of pubs in the area was packed with several men, drinking, singing and having a rolicking time. This was a surprise for me because it was a weekday and it was only about 10 in the morning. On the other side of Kennedy Road, the situation was somewhat different. There was hardly any activity despite the number of properly constructed houses. While some of the houses are occupied, a number of others are in a state of disrepair and deterioration and the owners seemed to have deserted their homes. The deserted houses have been taken over by homeless people and at one of the houses at least nine families have moved in.
( Ms Mpumelelo Cele, standing near her shack home) One of the people who has been living in this shack settlement for the past 19 years is 36-year-old Ms Mpumelelo Cele. She arrived here with her parents from Empangeni, on the north coast, to seek a brighter and better future. But life has been tough and the conditions have not improved much, especially after her parents passed away some nine years ago. She, her five children and siblings live in two shack houses at the bottom end of the settlement. "The conditions of the house," she said, "are very bad since the house is built of mud, board and plastics". "Whenever it rains our houses are flooded and whenever there's a fire, our houses catch on fire and are destroyed. I wish this place can be developed so that we can live in decent houses." Ms Cele said the residents of Kennedy Road Shack Settlement had been campaigning for better housing and improved living conditions since 1995. Except for the recent provision of public toilets, communal taps and a community hall, they were still waiting for the provision of decent houses. "We have held many protests to highlight the poor and unhealthy conditions in which we are forced to live. We have been promised the Dodoma Project nearby but are still waiting. In the conditions that we live in it's not a good situation to raise the children in the shacks. Since we live in a dump, this place is very dirty and unhealthy. "If we are moved to decent houses, then we will be able to take care of our lives."
(Tamsanka Desmond Gumede, one of the residents with the town councillor, Obed Ngcobo) One of her neighbours is 58-year-old Tamsank Desmond Gumede, who has been living in the settlement with his wife and five children for the past 17 years. Although he has to put up with the same polluted environment like other residents, he had and his family are in a much better position as he is a small businessman. He runs a small transport company and owns a small tuck shop. His house, although built of wood and iron, appears to be a litter better and he and his family boast a security gate in front of their front door. He's also concerned about the living conditions and would like to see the municipality improving the conditions as soon as possible. Speaking through an interpreter in IsiZulu, he said: "I want this place to improve with the provision of proper houses, improved roads and proper toilets. "I also want the authorities to provide permanent job opportunities for the people. The municipality must also provide soccer grounds and netball facilities for the youth. Only by providing better facilities we can overcome crime and other social problems."
(Another view of the settlement with a local resident and town councillor, Obed Ngcobo, in the foreground) The hunger for a better life in the new democratic South Africa is also the struggle of 41-year-old Ms Nosuko Hulushe, who arrived here with her mother from the Eastern Cape region when she was only 13-years-old. "We settled here a long time ago but still find ourselves without decent housing," said Ms Hulushe, who is the mother of two school-going children, a girl aged 13 and a boy, 12. Ms Hulushe, who is a member of the Kennedy Road Development Committee and deputy president of the newly-established ANC Womens' League branch, said she and other community leaders were working with the town councillor for the area to improve the lot of the shack dwellers. "We need proper housing. I want to move to a decent area. I want proper sanitation, hygenic wise, also better education for the children," she said. "I think the problem is that lots of people don't have enough income. If people can get proper jobs, some of them can manage to have houses, also the first priority is to have houses of their own."
(Town councillor, Obed Ngcobo, pointing to a spot where the Dodoma Flats are expected to be built) On one of the days I visited the settlement, I was accompanied by the town councillor, Mr Obed Ngcobo, who is working closely with the residents in an attempt to improve their lot. We walked along the road and interacted with the residents. He acknowledged that the living conditions of the people are unacceptable and inhuman. "We've got a very good plan of providing the residents with houses," he said. "That's the first thing. Secondly, they need jobs as you can see there's a lot of unemployed people here. So that's another challenge but we are trying to accommodate them in the short life span projects that we have started." He pointed out an area where the council wanted to start its housing project but said this was in a state of limbo at the moment. He said the ratepayers had submitted a petitition opposing the construction of the Dodoma Project on the site because it apparently contained remains of their ancestors. "We are waiting for a report from the department concerned and once this is at hand, we will decide the next step. We are also planning to provide alternative accommodation for the residents in housing estates like Cornubia." A veteran struggle activist, Swaminathan Gounden, who resides about five kilometres from the informal settlement, said the plight of shack dwellers was highlighted everytime it rained heavy or when there was a fire. He said the authorities were taking far too long to improve the living conditions of the people. "Now I know that the Kennedy Road informal settlement has been there for years," he said. "What has the municipality done. If it has done anything, we can't see people suffering like that. I am of the view that the municipality should attend to this situation as a matter or urgency." The Kennedy Road Informal Settlement is just one of several shack settlements that are found in and around the city of Durban and the hundreds of shack settlements that are found in all other cities, towns and urban areas of South Africa. The ruling ANC Government says it has and continues to build low cost housing to provide for homeless people. But it seems that the pathetic and inhumane conditions under which the informal dwellers live will continue for some time.