Society accountable for its actions

2019-06-06 06:00

Journalism is recognised for the watchdog role profession plays in society, among the other essential roles.

First-year students at tertiary institutions who study journalism as their field of choice receive training about its infinite value as a platform to inform, educate and entertain.

To fulfil these broad objectives journalists use a range of media platforms to communicate to a cross-section of our society or the specific audience the platform is targeted at.

In all these avenues the principles governing journalism – balanced reporting, fairness and accuracy – apply.

While journalism plays this rather significant, balanced watchdog role in mirroring society with all its merits and demerits, can one really regard media as the watchdog over society itself? Yes, a good question indeed – who watches over society?

After all, aren’t media mere tools of society, subject to their own systems of accountability?

Anyway, the reason I ask these questions lies in society’s behaviour. Who is it that must do the calling to order when society, or certainly sections of it, go awry?

These are issues that spring to mind in the aftermath of such callous, reckless mind blowing acts of madness as the petrol-bombing of Ikhwezi Clinic in Nomzamo.

Because of the catastrophic acts of a few in society many sickly patients will now not be afforded their constitutional right to proper healthcare.

It hit me hard when I interviewed a 59-year-old father who stood outside the clinic, looking at its gutted remains in shock and dismay. He had been coming to the clinic since 2002, and on this particular morning he had come for a blood test and to receive his medication.

The man just stood there, his eyes saying it all – “Why?” After all, like many others, he understood the importance of the institution to this community, because of the crucial services rendered there, ones that so many across the country are clamouring for.

But it takes just a crazy, reckless, selfish few to decide otherwise. Clinics are there to help people, regardless; destroying them will never solve anything.

This is definitely not fair and should be condemned outright, in the strongest terms, by one and all.

Should we allow such flagrant law breaking to be glossed over by the police? Are they even doing anything about it? Should this crime go unpunished?

When members or sections of society get a raw deal from authorities we, the media, are always there, drawing attention to these injustices. This applies no less to unjust acts of vandalism committed on public resources – in this instance, we too stand up and are counted.

Society, or the community of Nomzamo, Lwandle and surrounding areas, should stand up and show their displeasure by assisting police in ensuring the culprits are brought to book. Someone is bound to know who they are!

We all know the houses that sell booze, sell dagga, cocaine, tik and other drugs. So why keep quite in this instance?

If society can’t cleanse itself, or certainly its residential areas, of pestilence, who will?

Surely the community can’t expect someone from Sea Point or Khayelitsha to come and clean up the mess? We must start taking more responsibility for cleaning the messes we encounter in our midst, and not expect anyone else to come along and do it.

Phew!

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