Defend Truth

Opinionista

Our lack of outrage at PPE fraud has allowed the selfish thugs to get away with murder

mm

Klyne Maharaj is the former marketing manager of Superbalist.com and is currently reading towards a Master’s in Business Administration at the Gordon Institute of Business Science. He is a De Beers Scholarship winner for creative writing, and has published work on pop culture, fashion and sports for WGSN, News24, The Way of Us and Afrosurf.

I cannot think of anything more devoid of humanity than stealing someone’s lifeline in order to drive a Porsche or own Louis Vuitton luxury goods, and that’s exactly what lives are being traded for: material possessions.

Our latest episode of corruption – PPE and pandemic relief fraud – is without a doubt the most troubling since the birth of our democracy, not only because of the obvious danger it poses to ordinary citizens, but because it shines a light on the deep apathy plaguing our nation’s psyche.

Just a contextual reminder: corruption is not an ANC thing, nor is it a phenomenon of “black government”. Corruption has been embedded in South African culture since the likes of Cecil John Rhodes and Paul Kruger were carving up a nation’s worth of resources to enrich themselves and their pals. 

The apartheid system itself was amoral and corrupt to its core, so if you think this is “new” in any way, just reflect on those facts.

In my lifetime, South Africans have endured what Dr Ismail Vadi refers to as the three key periods of corruption: sanctions and demilitarisation fraud at the end of apartheid, State Capture and now PPE fraud. 

Our youth have been robbed of their future because of State Capture, which has left our public education system among the worst in the world, but what makes PPE fraud arguably more heinous is that it is happening in a time of crisis.

It’s ramping up the spread of the virus because people don’t have masks. 

It’s leaving our citizens desperately gasping for air in their dying moments because we don’t have enough hospital beds or oxygen. 

In the coming months, it’ll be signing even more death warrants as we fumble the delivery of vaccines, which has already got off to a predictably disastrous start.

So far, the scale of fraud is estimated to be R5-billion. There’s no point in contextualising that number because you already know it’s an astronomical figure. You already know it could’ve built hospitals or schools. You already know it could have saved lives – maybe some of your own loved ones, for those of you who’ve lost family and friends to the virus.

I cannot think of anything more devoid of humanity than stealing someone’s lifeline in order to drive a Porsche or own Louis Vuitton luxury goods, and that’s exactly what lives are being traded for: material possessions.

These selfish thugs wait in the shadows until times of crisis and then press their boots against the necks of our most vulnerable, who are already drowning in the most unequal country on the planet.

A professor of mine at Gibs told our class that he believes his generation’s great struggle was to defeat the apartheid government. He believes my generation’s great struggle will be to reclaim the economy and weed out corruption. He believes the latter will be even more difficult than the former.

We’ve become so callous as a nation – so used to the norm that is staggering corruption – that we’ve barely batted an eyelid at PPE fraud. 

When the apartheid government terrorised our nation for decades, we (slowly) fought back and dismantled their system. A question I ask myself more and more is: What will it take for my generation to fight back? What will be the final straw?

Personally, I’m not sure, but one thing I do know is that the answer isn’t to get accustomed to the status quo. Plato told us that “the price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men”. We are paying that price more and more as the years pass.

Many South Africans in my position have chosen to emigrate – they have chosen flight over fight – but for my fellow citizens who have chosen to stay, who’ve decided they will fight and not take flight, we need to maintain our outrage at the very least, because the only thing more damaging to our nation than corruption is our growing apathy towards it. DM

Gallery

"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"

Comments - share your knowledge and experience

Please note you must be a Maverick Insider to comment. Sign up here or sign in if you are already an Insider.

Everybody has an opinion but not everyone has the knowledge and the experience to contribute meaningfully to a discussion. That’s what we want from our members. Help us learn with your expertise and insights on articles that we publish. We encourage different, respectful viewpoints to further our understanding of the world. View our comments policy here.

All Comments 1

  • I’m not sure that I agree. I think that our “callousness” and “apathy” are the result of being accosted by bad news – about health, education, state capture, failing entities – every single day. It’s overwhelming. While you’re absorbing one set of facts, you receive dozens more. Where to start? Where do you focus your energy? Every article is overtaken by another, equally shocking.
    It is heartbreaking and leaves us who remain here feeling bruised and battered. And utterly helpless.

  • Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted