Critical expats are right

2008-02-21 00:00

I would like to reply to the article that Chris Moerdyk wrote on February 15, titled “Expats are trashing SA”. I would like to give you some background information as to why I am leaving for Perth on March 4.

I grew up in a small community in Ixopo and I am privileged enough to have grown up on a farm where I learnt to speak Zulu fluently.

In our Standard 9 year, on our way back from a prefect camp, we were hijacked by seven young Africans. This was a traumatic experience as we had a girl who is paraplegic with us. They tried to force her out the car, screaming at her to get out and walk — maybe if they had noticed the wheelchair the penny might have dropped.

They waved AK 47s around in our faces and shot over our heads. They laughed at us while we were running through the trees — this is not something that anyone, let alone 16-year-old children, should have to endure. The community of Ixopo was phenomenal in providing us with counselling and support.

One year later (my matric year) my stepfather was brutally murdered in our farm home while we were in the house. In our panic mode, we managed to get hold of the police who informed us that they had no vehicles to dispatch and we would have to wait. My mother, my two younger brothers (five and 13) and I fended for our lives while these savages ran through the house and tried to get through the door to our bedrooms where we were hiding.

We managed to get a mayday call out to the farmers, which was successful. I will never forget those moments of my family lying on the floor of the bathroom saying the Lord’s Prayer, while my stepfather lay on the other side of the door to our bedrooms with my five-year-old brother asking where his dad was.

My mother picked up the shotgun and fired off a warning shot, which sent the invaders running. The farmers reached us in no time, followed by the police at a later stage. How do you explain to a five-year-old boy that his father is dead? My mother has raised three children on her own. She has tried to pick up the pieces and move forward. To this day, the perpetrators have not been apprehended. This occurred on October 4, two weeks before my matric dance and three weeks before my matric final exams.

The murder and robbery squad questioned my mother and me on numerous occasions to ensure that we had not killed my stepfather for his money. I was questioned one hour before my Afrikaans final exam. Despite all of this, I did not collapse and managed to draw strength from family and friends, and remarkably came out with a B aggregate for matric. My stepfather was a great man who was senselessly taken away from his family and community.

A year later, I was hijacked while I was in my second year of study at the International Hotel School in Durban. With a firearm firmly pressed into my stomach, it was my ability to speak and understand Zulu that got me out of the situation alive.

Why should I be loyal to a country and its government, which has failed to protect me over and over again? I have no more loyalty to this country and encourage people to base their writing on factual evidence rather than on generalisations. Have you asked those people “who trash South Africa” for their stories? They are probably not as shallow as you think they are. Like me, their anger comes from having to leave their families, friends and homes behind so they can begin a healing process where they feel safe. To the expats who “trash” South Africa — good for them. Maybe someone will eventually listen to their stories and see South Africa for what it is — a rainbow nation, the only colour of which is red.

I am certainly not looking back over my shoulder and for those who say it’s so easy to run away to another country, eat your words. The decision to leave our families is one of the hardest decisions my partner and I have had to make, and has taken immense courage.

I challenge you, Chris, to live someone else’s life. Try mine and see if you would be as loyal to this so-called rainbow nation and if you would speak so highly of South Africa when you bury a family member who fell victim to a senseless murder.

And I am only 26 years old.

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