Weighing worth

2013-01-27 10:00

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There were at least two tragedies that occurred in KwaZulu-Natal during December that rocked the entire country.

The manner in which we, as a nation, dealt with the news of these two tragedies says so much about our humanity, or the lack thereof.

In the one case, South Africa lost a champion cyclist, Burry Stander.

Of course, this is a profound ­tragedy for his family and friends, for the cycling fraternity and for all of us.

I have never met Burry, but through this tragedy, I have learnt much about him and his family.

In the days since the tragedy, I have come to learn the names of his ­widow, Cherise, his brothers ­Duanne and Charl, and his father Charles. This is how it should be.

I join with so many others in ­expressing my sincere condolences to the Stander family.

I am glad that the taxi driver, Njabulo ­Nyawose, has been charged with culpable homicide and is already on trial. I was relieved to learn that Nyawose has sent an apology to the Stander family.

A few days prior to the accident that claimed Burry’s life, eight ­aspirant traffic officers died after the gruelling test of a 4km run.

I would presume that they were all young men with promise, who were poor and desperate for ­employment.

So desperate were they that they accepted the order to run this distance without shade or water in the blistering heat.

No medals, but the prospect of being selected for one of the 90 jobs that 32?000 people had applied for.

It appears that, as with Stander’s death, these deaths were entirely preventable.

What is different about these two tragedies is that as I write, I do not know the names of these eight young men. I do not know where they hail from.

I have not been ­introduced to their families and friends.

There is no reference that would allow me, as a fellow citizen, to sympathise with their families and friends.

I have seen a passing reference to a possible inquiry.

To the best of my knowledge, whoever gave the instruction to these 32?000 ­applicants has not been charged with culpable homicide.

I am yet to understand whether there will be some kind of campaign to prevent a recurrence of a similar tragedy anywhere.

So I ask again, can we really say that we demonstrate by our behaviour that human life has equal worth?

Have we internalised the values of our great Constitution? And was the transition from ­apartheid but a mirage?

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