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- A Stuijt
- Retired South African medical journalist, ex-Sunday Times of Johannesburg.
by that courageous Zimbabwean Margaret Kriel
November 25 2008 - BULAWAYO - Zimbabwean resident Margaret Kriel has been waging a relentless battle for survival for herself and all those around her.She has maintained a diary of the steady collapse of Zimbabwe. This week she reports from the Beit-Bridge river crossing Zimbabwe/South Africa - making the weekly pilgrimage with thousands of other starving Zimbabweans, hauling food from Mussina.
Picture - Takalani Mkondeleli is the only worker maintaining a 5km stretch of border-fencing between Zimbabwe and South Africa. - and fighting a losing battle, he told Beeld newspaper this week. Deadly-ill, starving Zimbabweans are now streaming into South Africa and head for a local refugee camp set up by the Red Cross at Mussina. Hundreds are sick with cholera, most are starving. Claims by the Zim regime that the 'cholera crisis is under control', are just so much hot air. http://www.telegraaf.nl/buitenland/2653927/___Cholera-uitbraak_onder_controle___.html
Read the following reports about what is really going on:
Margaret Kriel writes: NOV 24 2008 -- "We heard it every few kilometers, it was not consistent but very strange and very loud.... at first we thought, with dread that there was something wrong with the car and we were all alone on the very quiet BeitBridge to Bulawayo road. It was after all, 5 a.m. and we had been up since two am, so nervously we tried to pretend it was not happening.
A silent line of border-crossers:
'The border crossing had been particularly stressful, we had thought that arriving at the Beit bridge border post at 2.30 in the morning, would ensure we avoided the endless queues, but we were seriously mistaken.There were literally dozens of buses and the silent line of border crossers wound its way for hundreds of meters nearly to the gate. HeeHoo is a Patient Man and whilst I fretted, fumed and sat fed-up in the car, he stood stoically in the line in the pitch dark outside the customs and immigration hall.
A seething mass of humanity:
Eventually, curiosity got the better of my bad temper and I wandered off to investigate and chat with the populace. I had my camera, as always, but was too nervous to take pictures of the horrendous mishmash at the border post. There were people sleeping in every nook and cranny, blankets spread out in full view of the "authorities". Every pavement was covered in goods, chattels and a seething mass of humanity, it is after all, a 24 hour border post, and people have 24 hour needs.
I could almost smell the cholera boiling underneath the surface...
' However it was amazingly quiet, we Zimbos are an exceptionally peaceful people except for the likes of me, and apart from the occasional murmur when the queue jumpers were just too brazen, conversation was limited and it was quite cool, thank goodness. Beit bridge at midday is hell on earth, but as the dawn broke, it had an appeal all of its own... but I could almost smell the cholera boiling under the surface of it all ....
Humanitarian tragedy of hideous proportions:
'Previously I have made a point of being positive about Zim for the sake of the few tourists who might possibly still come and visit our beleaguered country, but right at the moment I am ashamed of my country and I would not want you to see just how dreadfully it has deteriorated. If the world does not help us somehow, there is going to be an humanitarian tragedy of hideous proportions.
'We got through in record time, only two whole hours ... this very week HeeHoo met some folk at the airport, they were flying back home instead of driving, because their cross border trip had taken ten hours. It is actually not the Zim side that is the problem, it is the SA side "going slow in solidarity with their Zimbabwe brothers". I hope not, because one could develop cholera just standing in that line for so jolly long.
'Do us a favor, we are hungry, that's why we are crossing the border in such vast numbers, there is nothing, nothing, nothing to eat in Zimbabwe, at least nothing we can afford, as we have no money to buy it with.'
Anyhow, back to that strange noise, it was like a continuous, deafening, harsh, singing sound. Whenever we heard it, we would open the window to listen, but the strange sound would suddenly retreat into the distance. Maybe the wheel was rubbing on something ?
Food for 75 elderly at Edith Duly Nursing Home...
Maybe the engine was about to seize, maybe the canopy of the truck that we were driving, (packed full of essential staple foods for the 75 elderly residents of the Edith Duly Nursing Home) was lifting somehow, and making this strange, discordant harshness ?
Eventually we could ignore it no more. We stopped, got out, and the sound hit us like a brick wall.
It was shrill, screeching, massive, unending, a cacophony of gigantic proportions, it was on one side of the road only, although the sound echoed on the other, absolutely deafening.
It was of course, the call of the Christmas Beetle, the African Cicada, Albanycada albigera ......It is a sound so familiar to all of us Africans but we had never ever heard it so loud and so unending. Beit bridge had just received its first rains, tinges of green were creeping through the packed hard earth, early-bird goats were tugging frantically at the first real food they had seen in many months, and the Cicadas were multiplying by their millions, by the second. What an amazing sound, we stood in awed silence devouring the most poignant of all African sounds, memorizing each sacred minute, savouring the cool ethereal dampness of a land so beautiful and yet so desolate, so deserted, so incredibly sad. Pictures by Margaret Kriel: Beit Bridge crossing in November - before the rains...
The sun was still way down on the horizon but it was already scorching, another day had started in Zimbabwe, where body and soul has to fight every moment of every day to stay alive.
Dante's Inferno has nothing on life in Zim at this moment in time...
NOV 26 2008 PRETORIA. Pictured are some of the 2,400 Afrikaans children who gathered at a rugby field in Pretoria yesterday to mourn the many hundreds of thousands of victims of the SA crime epidemic since 1994. Many of these children have also been targetted by crime with their families and said they are too scared to go to bed at night. ... (Pic: Herman Verwey, Beeld)
Beeld journalist Elana Carstens writes from Pretoria that 2,400 pupils of three Afrikaans schools in Pretoria walked onto a school's rugby field with large white crosses and laid down on the grass. The children from Booysens Primary, Saamspan Primary and Suiderberg High were commemorating the hundreds of thousands of South African victims who have already died in the country's violent crime epidemic. Besides the wooden crosses, the children also carried their own letters addressed to the country's acting-president, and prayed that this government leader would hear their plea for safety.
We don't trust the police - they are getting away with murder...
The children said in their letters to acting-president Kgalema Motlanthe that 'they didn't trust the police to protect them any more'-- many wrote that they were too terrified to even leave their own homes or go to bed at night. 'About 90% of the children are also asking in these letters for the reinstatement of the death penalty," said Kobus Hermitage, organiser and chairman of the South Africa Against Crime action group. "Something must be done urgently about crime in our country. Our children are now too scared to leave their homes."
Tanya Engelbrecht, 16, and Lavonne Benade, 16, pupils at Pretoria Tuine Technical High School, addressed the issue in their speeches to the assembled pupils -- accusing the ANC-regime 'not being able to bring crime under control: "We don't even have a police force we can trust. They are getting away with murder," Tanya said. "We have to stand together to fight crime in our beautiful country. "Ons is vir jou Suid-Afrika, Nkosi Sikelel 'iAfrika," Lavonne quoted the words from the national anthem.
ANC admits to 'policing problem'...
Retired defence force general Siphiwe "Ghebuza" Nyanda was also present, dispatched to speak on behalf of the ruling African National Congress party's national executive committee - He admitted that the children were correct. "There are problems in the policing system,' he conceded. "We have to take responsibility for the deeds that were committed and the poor way in which crime has been handled." Frik van Wyk of the Freedom Front Plus party was angry: "It has taken the governing party 14 years just to admit there is a problem. Will it take them another 14 years to do something about it?" http://www.news24.com/Beeld/Suid-Afrika/0,,3-975_2432518,00.html
'This is genocide'
November 26 2008 By Jacques Breytenbach, Pretoria News. Besieged Kameeldrift smallholders north of Pretoria have called for the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) to investigate the many armed attacks targetting the Afrikaans-speaking families in their region, including Cullinan.
Fourty-nine smallholders have been gunned down mercilessly during more than 180 armed gang-attacks in this one small primarily Afrikaans-speaking agricultural community to date this year alone and many women raped and children terrorised - yet the police does nothing to help them, they said. The residents on Tuesday handed over yet another of its many memorandi to the South African Police Service.
Will take this to the UN - our human rights violated: Kameeldrift Community Policing Forum (CPF) spokesman Warren Williams said the petition was in response to their basic human rights being violated.
"As a community, we have marched and shouted about crime. But this has amounted to nothing. We are still being maimed, raped, and shot at on a daily basis.
One murder in Laudium and security MEC visits - 49 Kameeldrift murders and nobody shows up...
"We demand that the NIA investigate if a third force is to blame for the crime in our area. We will also take the matter to the United Nations as we believe that the situation qualifies as genocide," said Williams. He said the Gauteng MEC for safety and security Firoz Cachalia visited (Indian-dominated) Laudium after one murderthere. "But 49 people are murdered in the (Afrikaner-dominated area of) Kameeldrift and the Cullinan area and no one helps us," he said.
The residents held a meeting in the area on Tuesday November 25 2008 - attended by the provincial head of crime prevention in Gauteng, Director Mac McLachlan. He said he himself had been robbed three times at his own house too -- and was 'fully aware that there is a big crime problem in Kameeldrift and in Cullinan. I am not here to make promises or to defend the police. But I will not allow that my fellow SAPS members get a lashing at this meeting. The minister of safety and security was here to speak with you earlier this month. You come here today with a list of demands, but I am not a politician. I am a policeman. I've been robbed three times in my house. So let us talk and find a solution," McLachlan said.
In the petition the residents demand the following:
- That crime intelligence be improved to such an extent that violent crime be prevented significantly;
- That more police members are deployed to prevent crime from occurring;
- That reported crimes be investigated and that the percentage of successful prosecutions increases noticeably; and,
- That policing is executed efficiently and that personnel and means are utilised optimally to curb crime significantly.
Community member Piet Germishuys said he did not sleep at night. "Our women are raped. The men are shot dead. In the past, the army was sent in to deal with a situation like this. "We don't know what the police are doing," he said. Cullinan resident, Abel van Aarde, said there were far too few police while so many migrants were also invading and 'urbanising' the smallholdings.