Disaster Management versus State of Emergency

I have listened to many stories and excuses with regards the impact of the ongoing lockdown. Many suggest that the government should have given them enough time in order to plan this and that. I ask myself what exactly is ENOUGH TIME? What is the scientific proof that given the enough time would have prevented the spread of Covid19.

All this takes me back to 1985 when the state of emergency was declared. I remember as I watched news on the SABC 1 channel in my hiding place. It was a black and white television screen. I did not understand what the emergency was really about. We were all not prepared as South Africans and what this meant to us, let alone most activists who were rounded up before dawn.

Some were picked up as the then President Botha was still articulating as to what it meant. We found ourselves in crowded olive stations and later prisons. Those that were picked up in their sleep were arrested either whilst in their sleep wear or without any covering. I tried to wear my shoes that were lying next to the bed in one of my detentions. The unfortunate eventuality was that I left my home with only one shoe.

At a certain point as the conditions became a bit favourable for us to be afforded visits from our families, and my first visit only taking place late in October of the same year, subsequent to my arrest in July. We heard stories that people were not allowed to move around as they pleased in the streets and that brings my argument to the fore. THEY WERE LOCKED DOWN!

My elder brother tells me that this lockdown is better because its valid reason is known and understood, which is, ‘to protect ourselves and others’. He is delighted that he is able to watch TV all day and marvels at the opportunity to acquire more knowledge at the comfort of his home with no thought of ‘watering holes’ or smoking. His solemn prayer is that he may not be tempted to go back to such indulgences.

He also relates that “the ‘skop en donner’ was understood better”. Well I was in prison and I don’t have a picture of how the outside world looked like during the state of emergency in the dark apartheid years, except for what I was told. The townships were deserted, no people roaming around, it was like a ghost town. My conclusion is that some South Africans do not respect nor appreciate the hard-won democracy. They would rather die in numbers than to respect the stipulated Disaster Management Act, regulations.

Honorable Ntombi Mekgwe
Speaker of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature
Reflects from her personal capacity

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