I grew up on a diet of cowboy movies. Film-makers made life easy – the cowboys, portrayed by the likes of John Wayne (the Duke). Clint Eastwood, Paul Newman and Robert Redford, were the ‘good guys’. The American Indians portrayed by Jay Silverheels, Chief Dan George, Will Sampson and the Navajo people were the ‘bad guys’.
Real life is much more nuanced and far more complex. Living in South Africa, I have often commented that I am not always certain who the ‘good guys are” and who the “bad guys are.”
Those who have read Jacques Pauw’s controversial book, “The President’s Keepers” are more confident in expressing an opinion than I, but admittedly I have not yet read the book. I must also confess I have not read Pieter-Louis Myburgh’s “The Republic of Gupta.”
Stories about corruption dominate our daily news – Steinhoff, the Guptas, Eskom, the City of Johannesburg’s Finance Department and City Power; the list seems endless, and it also appears to be growing, daily. Against this background, it is easy to paint a picture of South Africa as a gangster’s paradise, and rotten to the core.
There is no denying that corruption runs deep. The problem is if one focuses only on the negatives, one loses sight of the fact that there are millions of upstanding, outstanding, ethical South Africans, and these individuals constitute the majority.
Amidst all the doom and gloom, and negativity in our country, the Carte Blanche interview with Evert du Preez and Mokoni Chaka last Sunday was a breath of fresh air. In fact, I would go so far as to say it was akin to soaking rain breaking South Africa’s devastating drought countrywide.
Evert and Mokoni are only twelve years old. They have demonstrated tremendous leadership and courage. Mere boys, they did not wait for permission, they acted; they rescued elderly passengers and babies from Shosaloza Meyl when the train was hit by a truck at a crossing between Hennenman and Kroonstad.
Their bravery impressed, but their authentic friendship, trust and genuine affection for one another impressed even more. What stood out for me in the interview was how the two boys are truly multi-lingual. In fact, Evert seemed to be most at home speaking Sesotho than Afrikaans. Do watch the clip: https://twitter.com/Lean3JvV/status/949279007094247435. Also worth watching is the Netwerk24 video entitled: “Hier is Vierkleur nie ’n probleem nie.”
As a very wide range of stakeholders in South Africa, work vigorously to stamp out corruption in government, and the public and private sector, more dirt will be unearthed. While the focus must be on routing out corruption and eliminating fraud and misconduct in any of its guises, and bringing those guilty thereof to book, the focus must be equally on rebuilding trust and confidence in South Africa.
Evert and Mokoni provide hope that Madiba’s vision of building a rainbow nation is possible. We need to overcome enormous obstacles. However, when South Africans work together, our nation is unstoppable, and this lofty vision, achievable.