Whither SA democracy under successive Covid lockdowns?

SOUTH AFRICA’S bitter experience with successive states of emergency during apartheid, resulted in a liberal Constitution which aimed to avoid a political dictatorship. The executive is thus bound by a dispensation which enshrines democratic rights and freedoms even during an emergency or disaster.

The failure of Parliament to debate any of the regulations imposed since 23 March 2020, including the successive renewal of the disaster without so much as a democratic mandate, (currently we are in lockdown level 1) means that the checks and guarantees in our constitution amount to little more than hot air when it comes to the ruling party exercise of power.

While silent on the authority inherent to a public health disaster, it cannot be that the National Disaster Management Act is a more powerful instrument of governance than a State of Emergency, or that Parliament is in effect suspended and restrained from its oversight role?

“We must have parliamentary oversight and make a national state of disaster subject to the same procedural constraints that already apply to a state of emergency in our law. After all, the risks of the abuse of power under a state of national disaster are similar to those historically associated with a state of emergency” says Cilliers Brink MP the DA’s Shadow Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

A Coronovirus Management Act for instance, would certainly quell such reservations.

“Recently, the penny dropped for a few free-speech activists when they realised, with horror, that in this election year, all political events are currently banned” writes Cilliers.

“Even if the ban is lifted in the coming weeks, it can readily be reimposed by the stroke of a ministerial pen, regardless of whether there are less restrictive means to curb a third wave of the pandemic” he added.

With the collapse of our democratic institutions, our partisan ‘judiciary’ was soon to follow, trotting out apartheid-era justifications for the treatment of persons who oppose vaccination and removing dissident voices.

It was Voltaire who once said:  ‘I disagree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.’  While it was Harry S Truman who said: “Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.”

Spare a thought then for those who disagree with the special measures, introduced unilaterally by the nation’s executive, measures which include mask wearing, curfews, restrictions upon movement and the possibility of mandatory vaccination.

Craig Peiser, one of the organisers of a series of beach protest events held in False Bay by ‘We Are More’, is currently detained in a state psychiatric facility, after he was found unfit to appear for trial, apparently on account of his ‘lack of appreciation of right and wrong’.

This follows a ‘psychiatric report’ authored by one Professor Sean Kaliski.

“Based on the report, the court found that [Peiser] didn’t have criminal capacity when the incidents happened. He couldn’t distinguish between right and wrong” suggests Theolin Tembo  of INM.

Involuntary commitment for political reasons was removed from the Mental Health Care Act in 2002, but this didn’t stop Professor Kaliski from committing Peiser for his acts of civil disobedience.

Peiser who is opposed to mask wearing, removed the mask of an ENCA reporter, resulting in a charge of common assault. The media were barred from the court proceedings which resulted in him being treated as an involuntary mental health care user.

South Africa has often resorted to elements of the Cuban medical system, which routinely commits those who oppose the Castro dynasty inside mental health institutions. The SADF recently imported R260 million of the drug interferon, thinking that Covid-19 was biological warfare.

The country continues to enforce a travel ban on the Dalai Lama and has failed to guarantee secular rights and freedoms.

Dear Mr Fallist

Dear Mr Fallist,

You and your partner have been visiting my home for the past months.

I value our friendship and shared history at Community House, but more often than not, you have returned my kindness by engaging in a ‘bully pulpit’, declaiming upon matters which leave no room for disagreement, nor intellectual freedom from my side nor that of my friends and associates.

Yours is a bully pulpit with its associated guilt trip which boils down to the modern version of Mathew 20:30 — “Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.”

As a non-theist I don’t quote this biblical reference out of respect for scripture but rather to demonstrate that you appear to have a lot in common with the people that you claim to oppose.

To the day in question, in which you arrived, over a week ago only to tell me that UCT, still required ‘Decolonization’.

An institution from which I have a degree, and which treated persons such as myself, objectors and war-resisters, rather cruelly (to use your words), implementing a form of academic exclusion which amounted to invisibility alongside similar strictures meted out by the apartheid regime.

Nevetherless I finally received my marks in December 2020, some thirty years after I failed to attend my graduation in 1990 only to discover I had received a reasonable second, and had done quite well under the circumstances during a tumultuous period of student unrest.

You proceeded to inform me that there was something terribly wrong with the maths syllabus, ‘since there are other ways to draw a circle that don’t involve European maths’ as you put it. For the life of me, I could not recall any rudimentary method which did not have its origins in the Olduvai Gorge, the Caves of Lascaux and gardens of Mesopotamia.

You then motioned to explain that students at UCT were ‘still being taught Christianity and how many Angels’ (not angles) ‘could fit on a pinhead’, whereupon I exclaimed, that I ‘did not believe that every student at my alma mater was in the process of studying Thomas Aquinas, a native of Sicily, born in Italy.

You then advanced to relate the story of a particular female ‘professor’, a friend who you did not name, nor give any further details.

You explained that she had been active in ‘Rhodes Must Fall’, was appointed to an advisory board to former Chancellor Max Price, and had been overlooked for a job at UCT on account of her politics, whereupon she had taken the institution to the High Court, only to be told after nine months that it was a simple labour court matter.

I explained that since UCT is an institution created by an Act of Parliament (the UCT Act), I could imagine what she was up against and advised that issues to do with the curriculum and policy would be better taken up in Senate and that I am merely a member of Convocation.

I also hastened to guess at what the unfair discrimination case at Labour Court might entail, since as you know, I have had my fair share of labour discrimination litigation including a longstanding dispute, that also involves corruption at the Court by a member and/or associate of the ANC and former professor of law at UCT.

To your chagrin, I began to unpack some elements of the case. Asking who the person was that had beaten the aggrieved educator in question?

You answered that she was an Argentinian, ‘who was not even a professor at UCT’, and offered up the biography of one Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning — Associate Professor Lis Lange, formerly of University of the Free State (UFS), whose specialty is ‘philosophy of politics in education’

I then made an honest mistake of applying the self-same cursory test applied in my own case against the Legal Aid Board, averring that the courts would assume the case was one merely of sour grapes, your close friend, was simply a sore loser in the eyes of the law if the policy issues were set aside, and it was not simply a question of who was most qualified, but rather of the powers and mandate of the institution to appoint whomever it felt most capable.

I further cautioned that Max Price was no longer the Vice Chancellor, but rather, this post was held by a highly qualified professor of mathematics education, a black woman by the name of  Mamokgethi Phakeng

Whereupon you flew into a rage and was asked to leave.

If there is any lesson to be drawn from this experience, I guess, it is far easier to overlook naked aggression, than it is the inferences which may be drawn, that what you are really engaged in isn’t decolonization per se, but rather the desecularisation of society, its replacement by a politburo that shuns academic freedom at the same time as it discards pluralism and the multi-ethnic character of an institution, which has transformed immensely since the days I was on campus.

I therefore once again reiterate the view that policy issues regarding the UCT curriculum are best resolved by open debate, vigorous intellectual inquiry, evidence-based research and consultation between both academics and the student body.

Kind regards

D R Lewis

Mr President, did you forget to mention Acting Judge Cheat?

THIS WEEK President Ramaphosa moved to defend South Africa’s yellow judiciary from accusations made no less by a member of the Judicial Services Commission. The media has been at pains to aver lack of any evidence supporting accusations of bias against any of the country’s top legal authorities, despite politician Julius Malema condemning actions amounting to political interference.

“Unless supported by evidence, such claims undermine confidence in our courts, and weaken our Constitutional order,” wrote the President in his weekly newsletter on Monday.

He said South Africa’s Constitution makes provision for the removal of judges who fail “to uphold the values and principles with which they have been entrusted.” So I guess if any corrupt members of the judiciary bash the preamble to our Constitution or lower the status of the TRC and its report, they got this one covered?

Unfortunately the nitty gritty of provisions against malfeasance in office in particular, the abject failure to provide legal aid to those on the receiving end of corruption, unfair treatment and lack of fairness and impartiality, makes this a practical impossiblity.

“The National Assembly is empowered to remove judges who are found by the Judicial Service Commission to be guilty of gross misconduct” claims the President.

“The Judicial Service Commission is a carefully constituted body, which includes representatives from the judiciary but also the legal profession, academia and Parliament. There are clear processes established in law to deal with allegations of misconduct against members of the judiciary,” he said.

Ramaphosa then urged those who had ‘evidence of any wrongdoing by any judge to make use of the avenues provided in the Constitution and law to ensure that appropriate action is taken.’

Stating there to be “avenues” without providing any details, of how he intends to help those who do possess evidence, does not translate into action by the President, the Judicial Service Commission nor Parliament for that matter. Particularly when the ruling party in the form of the executive, is involved in the appointment of the nation’s officials, and in some instances, actively influencing the outcome of decisions (see below).

The judiciary is expected to remain independent and impartial, unfortunately the appointment of persons such as Albie Sachs to the bench in the 90s, set the tone for card-carrying members of the judiciary. Political apparatchiks believing themselves entitled to appointment to the ‘commanding heights of the justice system’ via a political project of cadre deployment and involving gerrymandering of the system.

So far as the removal of corrupt officials sitting on the bench is concerned, the constitution is rather vague and opaque on which steps which need to be taken — impeachment via Parliament or finding of gross misconduct by the JSC — surely both actions should occur concurrently? Any miscarriages of justice involving the ruling party exerting undue influence over proceedings should at very least be debated on the floor of the National Assembly?

The President was thus silent on the vexing issue of ‘acting judges’ — those who act in the place of judges, and who for all intents and purposes, are judges. In the liberal language of our constitution, literally anyone with sufficient ‘qualifications’ may be a judge, and while there is provision for citizens to act as lay assessors, this mechanism is rarely used.

The JSC currently disclaims any authority over the behavior of its acting judges, those coopted into the judiciary, leaving an alarming fracture in accountability. The result is that literally any director of a sizeable law firm may act as a judge or magistrate, without disclosing assets or an interest in the proceedings, lending credence to the assertions made by Malema and demonstrated by the evidence provided below.

And this with Judge Hlophe seemingly back at work, as if the hearings into gross misconduct before the JSC never happened? (See ‘He’s a danger on the bench’ – Kriegler  and Be gone, John: the JSC has a duty to get rid of Hlophe)

An as yet unsigned affidavit detailing attempts to prosecute an ANC political partner, labour broker, and erstwhile law professor Halton Cheadle, who presided as an acting justice over a matter affecting both his client and business associates, including then speaker of the House of Assembly Max Sisulu, during a hearing at Labour Court in 2010 and thus implicating the party in capture of the judiciary, is provided.

If you wish to contribute towards a fund to act upon the contents, here is a link to our paypal account.

Who needs vaccine consent when you Pierre De Vos ‘constitutional law expert?’

THE APARTHEID STATE was responsible for some of the worst excesses and infringements of our health rights. Not only did it deprive black persons equal access to medical care but it experimented on its citizens at will, leading to the inclusion of article 12 rights in our Constitution, rights strictly forbidding such practices.

The strictures contained under “Freedom and security of the person” relate to bodily and psychological integrity — the use of torture and forced medical experimentation, and are most certainly not subject to retroactive legislation. They are also protected as non-derogable rights even under a state of emergency or national disaster.

This didn’t stop an incompetent and ignorant ‘legal expert’ by the name of Pierre de Vos from weighing in on the side of the removal or dilution of article 12 rights, based upon various criminal court precedents impacting upon the rights of persons who have already been found guilty of a crime.

De Vos maintains that for the good of the world, mandatory vaccination with or without patient consent is required to stem the impact of the virus and especially its mutations and thus the right to freedom and security of the person, especially bodily and psychological integrity, require some limitation.

The anal probe ‘expert’ claims, without providing any substantive evidence: “The decision by an individual not to be vaccinated against Covid-19 may pose a deadly threat to the lives and well-being of others. If a significant number of individuals refuse to be vaccinated, the virus will continue to spread among the unvaccinated, which may allow the virus to mutate into new strains against which the existing vaccines may no longer be effective. If this happens, the lives of many more people in South Africans and across the world may be lost. Whether to be vaccinated could therefore be a life-or-death decision – not only for yourself, but also for others.

De Vos is a regular contributer on national television and the Daily Maverick. It therefore may come as a surprise to his followers, that his scholastic resort to S v Manamela and Minister of Safety and Security and Another v Gaqa warrants an immediate objection on the basis that as free citizens, we are certainly neither prisoners of Pretoria, nor are we guests of the State President to use a legal euphemism often deployed against those incarcerated under an insanity defence.

It is perhaps why the President in his recent address was quick to reassure citizens that our vaccination programme would be voluntary.

Spare a thought for victims of previous state programmes. In a project headed by “Dr Shock” Aubrey Levin during the 1970s to 1980s, the South African Defence Force forced lesbian and gay military personnel to undergo aversion therapy and/or “sex-change” operations, part of a state sponsored program to purge homosexuality in the army.

The infringements by apartheid doctors include ‘psychological coercion, chemical castration, electric shock, and other unethical medical experiments.’

An estimated 900 forced sexual reassignment operations according to Richard Poplak, may have been performed between 1971 and 1989 at military hospitals. Most of the victims were males, young 16 to 24-year-old white men who were drafted into the army during the South African Border War. Women were also subject to the experimentation.

While the labour camps and hostels surrounding South Africa’s mines, gave the world data on the exact temperatures at which workers die from heat and humidity exposure resulting in a measurement widely used in climate science today, black women found themselves subjected to forced sterilisation, and Depo Provera injection programmes, both seeking to limit the growth of the black population.

The measures and shoddy reasoning provided by De Vos, would require a dramatic shift in the democratic character of our country towards a totalitarian state, in which personal and individual freedoms are trumped by the requirements of large scale vaccination.

Such a programme would invariably open the door to endless, annual Covid shots, and similar interventions, as updates are pushed from Big Pharma, who nevertheless secure an endless stream of funding from government at the same time that they are indemnified from any responsibility.

It remains to be seen whether or not South Africa will be able to chart its own path whilst resisting the global trend under the World Health Organisation to roll-out of such draconian measures.

12Freedom and Security of the personWith respect to subsections (1)(d) and (e) and (2)(c).
Extent to which article 12 rights are protected under a state of emergency

SEE: Japan asks China to stop anal tests on its citizens

If Biko and Plaatjie were alive today, debating non-racialism (response to Majavu)

THERE is a special place in hell reserved for those who wish to forge and revise history. A bizarre fabrication of the facts surrounding the origin of non-racialism was published in the Sunday Independent, written no less by a ‘senior lecturer in the Department of Political and International Studies at Rhodes University’.

Dr Mandisi Majavu’s fraudulent propaganda piece apparently for a stream of political thought adjacent to or associated with the ‘black consciousness’ movement, argues that the black intelligentsia ‘have consistently misread, misunderstood, and mistook white racism for something it was not – a white benefactor.”

He then descends into an unsupported and counterfeit conspiracy claim that ‘non-racialism was introduced by whites in the ANC in the 1950s leading to a further blunting of ‘the organisation’s race analysis toolbox’.

In this asinine and acerbic view, persons such as JT Jabavu, publisher of the first black newspaper Imvo ZabaNtsundu, and even critic Sol Plaatjie, were simply ‘racial accommodationists’. In the process both Jabavu and Plaatjie are stripped of human agency, mere foils for the colonial authorities.

Majavu postulates “Jabavu’s political project was aligned to the agenda of his political “masters” – the South African Party” before upbraiding his chief critic, Sol Plaatjie, written off as unashamedly contaminated by the “white liberal spell of Cape liberalism”, which Plaatjie himself described as representing “British ideas of fair play and justice”.

“Not only was Plaatjie short-sighted” alleges Majavu “when it came to the history of white racism in South Africa, he failed to appreciate what was coming next.”

Well, hang me high for suggesting that hindsight is 20/20 vision and this type of phoney syncretism begs the question — what would Plaatjie or Biko say for that matter, if they were alive today?

“Plaatjie is not the only 20th century black leader ill-equipped to understand the full meaning of the white supremacist project being advocated for by whites in early 20th century” declares Majavu who then goes on to propose:

“John Dube, first president of the ANC, subscribed to Booker T Washington’s racial accommodationist and black self-help politics.” In the process unfairly writing off both Pixley Seme and Alfred B Xuma, ‘part of the black intelligentsia who though fighting valiantly against the Native Land Act nevertheless elicited a ‘disappointing response to race segregation’.

This sets the stage for the unfounded assertion that whites were solely ‘responsible for the introduction of nonracialism’ and that persons of colour, all subjugated servants to a tee, timidly took up the baton, bearing the cudgels of universalism and monogenesis (the theory of human origins which posits a common descent for all human races). This under the egregious whip of the Church, influenced or brainwashed by missionaries and that it was the ANC which invariably became non-racialism’s foremost champion and proponent from the very start.

Majavu’s piece painfully ignores the historical tragedy of the singular fact of the struggle that it was Robert Sobukwe, founder of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) who first articulated race agnosticism in any coherent fashion.

Although universal ideas such as equality and respect for human rights, alongside the paleoanthropological evidence of our common origin, may have been advocated in private by ‘white persons’ such as communist party leader Joe Slovo, the ANC of the 1950s was very much defined by the Freedom Charter, itself a document bound up with the multiracial language of the period.

Sobukwe famously stated in his United African States inaugural 1959 address, “The Africanists take the view that there is only one race to which we all belong, and that is the human race. “

“To us the term “multi-racialism” implies that there are such basic insuperable differences between the various national groups here that the best course is to keep them permanently distinctive in a kind of democratic apartheid. That to us is racialism multiplied, which probably is what the term truly connotes.”

History demonstrates it was thus the ANC an avowedly ‘multiracial’ party which went on to adopt non-racialism at the behest of the Unity Movement and other critics of colour.

In particular my mentor and comrade, the late Dr Neville Alexander used to relate the story of how he and Mandela were prone to engage in dialogue on the issue of the race question, whilst breaking lime stone in the quarry and incarcerated on Robben Island .

Speaking on the position of the ‘Unity Movement,’ Alexander’s view was that there was a ‘common stream of humanity, not separate and distinct streams as the racists would have it’.

The journey of both the ANC and the Rainbow Nation is thus an epic one from the multiracialism of the 1950s to the non-racialism of the new South African Constitution, a document whose preamble enshrines an elegant and powerful idea alongside recognition of the injustices of the past.

Would Steve Biko be a non-racialist if he were alive today? I think he would most definitely support non-racialism in its far-reaching appeal to end race discrimination, at the same time that he pointed out that ‘blackness is not the result of skin pigmentation but rather a reflection of a mental attitude’.

If Jabavu, Dube, and Pixley Seme were alive, perhaps they would be upbraiding the ANC for neglect of its allies in the freedom struggle, its avoidance of the universal imperatives of the Preamble to our nation’s Constitution and its abject failure to chart a coherent vision, free from corruption.

Given the adverse conditions under which those opposed to the apartheid state found ourselves, I find Majavu’s fraudulent attempt to malign non-racialism as an ‘all-white affair’ morally reprehensible and beneath contempt, since the facts certainly do not support the above conjecture.

[David Robert Lewis is an anti-apartheid activist and graduate of the Centre for African Studies, University of Cape Town]

[Published in a radacted form by Sunday Independent, 14/2/21]

Let the people surf: acts of civil disobedience over weekend are justified

IT WAS NELSON MANDELA who deployed civil disobedience as a key factor in ending apartheid. His defiance campaign against unjust pass laws, segregation and separate development formed the basis for the new constitutional dispensation.

This weekend saw a mass Turn Up event on South Africa’s beaches, with citizens defying the President’s banning of beach activity including surfing.

Organisers have labeled the  lockdown regulations “draconian” and “ridiculous“. There is no scientific evidence that coronovirus is the result of actual ocean ‘waves’.

Reaction from mainstream political parties were scathing in drawing comparison between police reaction to service delivery and SASSA protests and the weekend’s events, in which police appeared to take a stand-back approach, while the opposition DA were more supportive.

The EFF were quick to point out that the majority of protesters were ‘white’ and bemoaned the fact that protests involving the party which is predominantly black, such as the recent Brackenfell High spectacle had been met with police brutality.

The party seems to forget an incident on Clifton Beach involving the slaughter of a sheep, in which the boot was on the other foot so to speak, when apposite statements regarding the breaking of City bylaws over the weekend were being made by the party.

The incidents may also recall the 1989 apartheid beach protests.

The ANC soon followed with its own equally loud missives, condemning the lack of police action, but forgetting South Africa is a liberal democracy enshrining political rights including the right to freedom of movement and peaceful assembly amongst other rights such as the right to health, environment, occupation and security of the person.

These are for the most part, all non-derogable political rights, like the right to protest in South Africa, rights upheld by a majority Constitutional Court decision and not subject to retroactive legislation.

In November 2018 the Constitutional Court affirmed the right to protest when it handed down a landmark judgment in Mlungwana and Others v S and Another. The court declared that Section 12(1)(a) of the Gatherings Act was invalid and unconstitutional ‘because it criminalises peaceful protesters who fail to notify the authorities of their intention to protest.’

The Pretoria high court recently declared the National State of Disaster’s level 4 and level 3 regulations “unconstitutional and invalid.”

This follows an application by the Liberty Fighters Network (LFN), a group that “consists of economically oppressed South Africans and lawful residents of all different groups,” according to its website.

Needless to say, surfers of all persuasions are still intent on breaking the unjust imposition of the anti-surfing prohibitions.

Zondogate, Arthur Fraser, Adriaan Basson, Media Spy Saga

IT’S A SCANDAL that has been brewing for quite some time, revelations that the Zuma Administration engaged in dirty tricks operations targeting South Africa’s newsrooms, activists, NGOs and anyone opposing his faction within the ruling party.

Millennials will probably not be aware of the Information Scandal which rocked the country during the dying stages of the Vorster government, in which the apartheid state similarly went so far as to purchase news titles outright in an effort to beat sanctions and the anti-apartheid movement.

That Zuma set up a parallel espionage operation, infiltrated newsrooms and appears to have invested millions in getting the Independent Group to write glowing advertorials needs to be seen within the context of the broader efforts by the ANC to replicate the state capture of the former National Party.

It was Naspers and Perskor which first set the stage for capture of the media. The perverse manner in which Naspers was essentially the ‘tap root of the National party” is covered in Chapter 4 of the TRC Final Report and also Hennie van Vuuren’s book “Apartheid Guns and Money” as too the evidence given by one Paul Erasmus.

It was therefore more than a little galling to witness an ongoing public spat between the current head of SANEF and former editor-in-chief of News24, Adriaan Basson and INM’s Iqbal Surve. Most certainly a case of the pot calling the kettle black?

Surve writes: “In an opinion piece titled “Hlaudi, Iqbal and Johnny: Inside the horror show of SA’s media rogues” and published on his News24 website, Basson uses the report of a probe into media ethics commissioned by Sanef to justify this unwarranted attack on myself and Independent Media.”

The man implicated by superspy Arthur Fraser in a ‘money for headlines’ scandal goes on to say: “The role played by Basson’s own bosses in state capture is also well documented. Why doesn’t Basson probe and question their lack of accountability at the Zondo Commission probe into state capture, or for that matter the role they played during apartheid?”

It is a developing story, and most certainly there will be questions raised as to why the Zondo Commission is focusing exclusively on state capture under Zuma involving INM whilst ignoring state capture under PW Botha et al?

Readers will no doubt recall that the dirty tricks campaign against the TRC waged by Basson and Co. is ongoing and current, and that both the state and the Naspers company actively oppose my right to legal assistance as contemplated by the Constitution in a matter effecting the life of the TRC and its Final Report.

We will be lucky if we vaccinate 2% of our population

GIVEN the slow pace at which South Africa’s mass vaccination campaign has been rolled out — as yet, not one confirmed public vaccination has been administered — claims by government that 10% of the population, including the vulnerable and front-line workers will receive the jab, must be met with a good degree of scepticism.

We will be lucky if we manage to vaccinate some 2% of our citizens over the coming six months, that’s 1 140 000 or just over 1 million individuals. The recent comments made by the Chief Justice may have already torpedoed the public Covax Initiative.

In the week in which a new more virulent local variant of the virus was announced by Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, with its origin in Nelson Mandela Bay, the country finally paid over its contribution to the UN programme, yet another example of what Dr Carl Venter terms a ‘poor handling of the crisis’.

Health activists had thus already expressed concern that South Africa had missed the deadline, and all this while images of the West’s immunisation campaign already under way were being streamed over our television screens, a local wait-and-see approach if any.

Meanwhile the health system in several provinces was under severe pressure, with no plans in sight to alleviate the lack of oxygen, PPE and high care facilities over the New Year period. Local press appeared unable to present the problematic second wave and our failing vaccination programme in any frame except, ‘we’ve been here already, and don’t want another hard lock-down’.

Readers would have had to find information on the collapse of health care services and lack of critical care in Nelson Mandela Bay, not from the local press, but rather from the New York Times, whose Sheri Fink reported this week on a tragedy unfolding in Port Elizabeth, and thus a troubling lack of credible information from local media houses.

A situation of self-censorship which has its echo in previous fumbling by the Mbeki administration over ARVs and the earlier Botha regime which suppressed news about the SADF invasion of Angola and death toll at Cuito Cuanavale?

While government was announcing it had identified the 501.V2 Variant, Minister Mkhize was thus bizarrely playing down the implications of a sudden shift in the epidemiological picture as the demure Prof Karim continued to spew forth scientific opinion with little impact on the reality and lives of health care workers.

“Clinicians, said Karim “have been providing anecdotal evidence of a shift in the clinical epidemiological picture – in particular noting that they are seeing a larger proportion of younger patients with no co-morbidities presenting with critical illness,” he said.

If Fink’s observations as a journalist are mere anecdotes, then much of what passes for press commentary in the republic is a fraud.

Let her words below sink in, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to observe the virus isn’t any more deadly, it is rather, more pernicious and disruptive to our health sector:

“At the center of a terrifying coronavirus surge, 242 patients lay in row after row of beds under the soaring metal beams of a decommissioned Volkswagen factory.”

“Workers at the vast field hospital could provide oxygen and medications, but there were no I.C.U. beds, no ventilators, no working phones and just one physician on duty on a recent Sunday — Dr. Jessica Du Preez, in her second year of independent practice.”

“In a shed-like refrigerator behind a door marked “BODY HOLD,” carts contained the remains of three patients that morning. A funeral home had already picked up another body.”

“On rounds, Dr. Du Preez stopped at the bed of a 60-year-old patient, a grandmother and former college counselor. Her oxygen tube had detached while she was lying prone, but the nurses had so many patients they hadn’t noticed. Now, she was gone.”

That medics are having to prioritise who gets treatment while denying others, according to a score card, is a tragedy being repeated all around the world.

Crackpot Chief Justice Mogoeng, now with added 666

THE FAR RIGHT agenda within South Africa’s judicial system reared its ugly head once again this past week, with Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng pronouncing upon the Covid Vaccine.

According to the elected head of the judiciary, some Covid vaccines might contain ‘triple-six’ or the ‘mark of the devil’. Only ‘non-Satanic’ vaccines should be accepted, he added.

It is a declaration that would be risible if it were not for the fact that Mogoeng Mogoeng, who alleges he is ‘not a scientist but rather a prayer warrior‘, is also a legal professional and a sitting judge.

According to Stephen Grootes, the ‘claim that some vaccines might be “triple-six” cannot be based on scientific fact.

“He himself admits he has no understanding of vaccines. His comments may reasonably be construed to lead to harm, particularly in a context in which it is currently illegal, during the State of National Disaster, to spread falsehoods about the virus.”

The judge, whose crackpot beliefs are certainly not backed by science nor academic research, defends his views rather, as being ‘in accordance with Christianity’.

That Mogoeng is a charismatic Christian is well-known, less evident is the basis upon which he issues forth his opinions in the form of prayer, and thus the claim that the rights guaranteed by our constitution accord his office the benefit of speaking on topics, for which he is no doubt unqualified to speak.

Notwithstanding the obvious intrusion of Church and State and undermining of the separation of powers. The Chief Justice claims rights which he denies others and is thus a mendacious hypocrite, suppressing the views of anyone who disagrees with his far-right Christian ideology.

In 2010 an irregularly-gained decision handed down by a corrupt ANC official, purporting to be the opinions of the Labour Court of South Africa, proceeded to demonise this writer, for asserting that the views of a Media24 employee resembled the now defunct ideology of the Dutch Reformed Church (NGK).

The contested decision anathematised a career in journalism on the basis of the writer’s opposition to apartheid and possession of a secular belief system.

It proceeds to assert that de facto race segregation and race profiling of readers at Die Burger (sic) not Media24 community newspapers, was ‘merely a coincidence of homogeneity’ i.e. an accident of nature or ‘miracle of sameness’, and the company in question could not possibly be in the wrong, since its sole witness was ‘Italian and a Catholic‘.

Imagine explaining the events at Brackenfell this year as a mere coincidence?

Race segregation is not a teaching of the Catholic Church, and likewise, the Covid vaccines being developed by Pfizer and Moderna are unlikely to be repudiated and excommunicated as the ‘work of the beast’, by the broader Christian establishment.

Needless to say, several complaints to the Office of the Chief Justice, i.e. the Judicial Services Commission were ignored.

See DRL condemnation of right-wing anti-secular revolt within SA justice system

See: Dr Glenda Gray to Chief Justice Mogoeng: Keep your religious beliefs to yourself

See: Scientists call for Mogoeng’s impeachment over vaccine conspiracy

See: The Chief Justice must be called to order

Greens should challenge notion that banks determine “Environmental Leadership”

In 2016, ‘two men pretending to be police officers’ murdered Sikhosiphi “Bazooka” Radebe the founder of the Amadiba Crisis Committee, an environmental group opposed to mining in Umgungundlovu in Eastern Mpondoland. 

In November this year, Fikile Ntshangase, deputy chairperson of the Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation, was assassinated amid ‘claims of death threats and bullying by those in favour of the expansion of Somkhele Coal Mine, which requires the relocation of 21 families, which Ntshangase opposed’.

Instead of releasing paid advertising promoting their house brand, one would have expected WWF and others, to stand up in solidarity against the slaughter of environmentalists. The latest round of ‘leadership’ material glosses over the fact that environmental justice leaders are being killed and assassinated as we speak.


South Africa’s environmental justice movement originates in the tumultuous period in which organisations such as End Conscription Campaign were being banned. In particular, Earthlife Africa arose as a broad movement for environmental justice which broke terrain by being inclusive of human development and issues affecting ordinary black citizens. 


Having linked the environment to apartheid and its deleterious effect on our climate and habitat, environmental justices activists such as myself, took to the streets in successive waves of protest action over the decades. However it is abundantly clear that bankers and financiers are seeking to control this narrative by a strategy of ‘electing’ leaders within the movement.

A newsbrief posted this past month bluntly states:  ‘WWF Nedbank Green Trust environmental leaders graduate internship programme has been dedicated to developing the leadership capacity of graduates who want to contribute to a better environment’.

WWF is an organisation co-founded by apartheid financier Anton Rupert, the man responsible for creating a National Party sponsored cabal which continues to ignore the massive contribution of organisations such as Earthlife Africa, Environmental Justice Network and allied organisations.


In 2018 ELA national director Makoma Lekalakala was named co-winner of the prestigious Goldman Award alongside Liz McDaid of SAFCEI, a Southern African multi-faith institute addressing environmental injustice. Unlike ELA, SAFCEI is considered inside of the fold of the WWF Nedbank alliance. It took a foreign award to recognise the achievements of both parties.

Banks and corporate South Africa need to be told that they while they are free to support environmentalism, promoting their own favourites as ‘leaders’ whilst ignoring the immense sacrifice of persons such as Fikile Ntshangase and Sikhosiphi “Bazooka” Radebe, is nothing more than a gross form of greenwashing, paid propaganda exercises calculated to deflect attention away from obvious holdings in oil, gas and fossil fuel.


Similarly, environmental activists need to be called to account for failing to raise solidarity with the Mfolozi Commmunity. We must take a stand on democratic accountability within the broader environmental justice movement. Leaders should be elected and accountable to membership of their organisations. Fund-raising should be transparent and open to member scrutiny.