Interested in everything that goes on

2008-08-01 00:00

What is your connection with The Witness and to Pietermaritzburg?

I have lived here all of my life and The Witness has been part of it since I was able to read.

Where were you born and where did you grow up? What’s your educational background?

I grew up in KwaPata and Willowfountain. These were mixed areas until the Group Areas Act took effect. They were great places for an adventurous boy and I still have fond memories of this rural area, which, despite apartheid, had several old white men with black wives and coloured children. When I was about 17 we were moved to Woodlands to appease the grand design. Since I come from a family of nine children, contributing to the family coffers was a priority as my father had a low paying job at the local tannery. The result is I only passed standard eight. Fortunately, my mother, a sensitive and cultured soul, encouraged us to read and to appreciate the nuances of the English language.

How do you spend your days?

I have been employed at the Department of Public Works for the past 21 years. I was the first coloured carpenter employed there and the job offered security, which for me at the time, overrode its racist practices. It was a haven for ex-Rhodesians with very little skill and lots of resentment. The pendulum has since swung full circle. Enough said.

Do you write letters to other newspapers? Why do you choose The Witness?

Only The Witness. I choose The Witness in the hope that my concerns will reach those in the corridors of power and those I have “issues” with.

How do you receive your news about South African current affairs and why do you follow it?

Through the print media and television. I want to know when war breaks out. Seriously, it’s because I’m interested in everything that goes on in the world around me.

Do you have any other passions or interests?

I’m a competitive runner with 10 Comrades Marathon medals to my credit. I train six days a week. In my spare time I like Spike Milligan-type humour and the theatre occasionally. I am a rabid Manchester United fan.

What do you think the value of letter writing is? What inspires you to write letters?

It is a tool we use to vent our anger, frustrations and appreciation in the public domain. It can, in a wider context, bare the soul of the average citizen. I’m inspired to write by whatever moves me enough. The good, the bad and the downright stupid.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing South Africa today?

Corruption at all levels of society, rampant criminality and the undermining of the judiciary by warmongers. It doesn’t help that our president has been emasculated and reduced to a talking head.

Tell us about yourself and your family.

I’m 60 and married with great children who have made me really proud.

What do you believe has been your best letter?

That’s like asking who my favourite child is. My letters challenging people’s perceptions and assumptions are close to my heart. White sportswriters, especially, with their short and selective memories, have been fair game.

Do you get any feedback as a result of your letters?

Plenty. From family, friends and those I have challenged, trying to justify themselves. I have received letters from Witness editors, past and present, when I felt the paper was biased or unfair.

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