Making people think, reconsider

2008-10-31 00:00

WHAT is your connection with The Witness and to Pietermaritzburg?

I completed primary school in Richmond and thereafter high school and tertiary education in Pietermaritzburg. During my university years I spent four years as a resident of the city. The Witness has always been the paper on my parents’ dining-room table and one of the most reliable and accessible sources of information and news about Pietermaritzburg and South Africa in general.

Where were you born, where did you grow up and where were you educated?

I was born in the Netherlands, and we came to South Africa when I was seven. I attended Alexandra High School and then obtained a law degree from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

How do you spend your days?

I have recently relocated to the Netherlands. I am completing a Masters at the University of Groningen and work part-time as an advisor in a maritime company.

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

I have on occasion written to other newspapers but I enjoy writing to The Witness partly because of my link to the city and in order to give useful commentary on a topic. It helps if it is something which has the potential to make an impact.

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

Because of my relocation I no longer receive The Witness in paper form but I access the online Witness (and other online publications). I do so because the developments of the past few months reflect a crisis in leadership and has me convinced that South Africa is at a crossroad.

Do you have any other passions or interests?

I enjoy my career and social life. I have romantic aspirations as an amateur sportsman and also enjoy a good read.

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

Each topic is one which grabs my attention either because it is contentious, because it is relevant to an issue in the news or because I believe something is not receiving the attention it deserves. If a letter does not make people think, reconsider or at the very least postpone their cornflakes for a second, it has very little value.

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

Most definitely the crisis in leadership. I remain astounded that we somehow managed to go from the highs of president Nelson Mandela and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to the incoherent ramblings of Julius Malema and a complete lack of substantive leadership on the part of senior ANC members. Closely related to this is the polarisation which has de-veloped in South African society. In the past the country was divided because we were told that we had to be, now we are often divided because we want to be.

What is your age and occupation?

I am 25 years old and a fulltime student.

What do you believe has been your best letter?

I believe that the “best” letter would have to be the one concerning the assault of Douglas Creighton-Jones in Richmond. It was not special because of the way it was written but because of the response it received.

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

Usually it is my father who gets the feedback, however, I do receive regular feedback and it plays a great part in my continuing to write.

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