Egoli showed its true heart of gold
YOU KNOW better than anyone, just how tough life is in South Africa. We often say in the newsroom that this is a brilliant country to be a journalist in, but often a really scary place to be a citizen.
Open any newspaper and it’s a case of page after page of turmoil, horror and angst: leaders at each others’ throats in horrible dirty political battle; sports teams choking when we so need them to succeed. Sometimes the rainbow nation looks more like a rainbow myth, with very little for us to celebrate.
And just then comes a story that throws all of that on its head, and it happens right here in Joburg, our town.
People who don’t live here tend to think Joburgers are money-obsessed and cold-hearted, as we trample over each other in the race to get to the front of the queue.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
I’ve worked on this paper for almost 13 years. I’ve had the privilege of being your editor for three of them.
You don’t have to look very far to find the beauty, the generosity and the kindness of what really is the City of Gold.
We recently introduced a weekly feature entitled “People of Jozi” to quite literally give each of you a peek into how the other half lives. People who we might pass on the streets in our cars, the corridors of our shopping malls, or even across the hallways of our offices.
Everyone has a story. It’s our privilege to tell you your stories.
Last week Petrus Mofokeng told us his.
He’s a beggar. He never chose to be. He was a builder until a work accident crippled him a couple of years ago.
Now he begs to provide for his family. He doesn’t get a state grant. His family is in dire straits, but he’s determined to do the best that he can.
What was killing him was the fact that his 18-year-old daughter, Lerato, had a matric dance to go to, but – much like Cinderella – wasn’t going to get to the ball. He didn’t ask for help. Neither did we. You, though, responded in your droves – from across the city, across the country, across the world, actually. The response took our breath away: help, money, clothes, shoes, hair-dos, facials, you name it.
Lerato will get to the ball, she will get her princess moment thanks to you.
But that’s not all; we’ve decided to donate to the Princess Project, so that other girls like her who have beaten the odds to stay the course all the way to matric can get to their matric dances, too – all thanks to you.
I’m a journalist, it’s the only job I’ve ever done.
My friends think I’m fairly hard-bitten and cynical, my colleagues know me as a”foot-in-thedoor” hard news reporter; it’s how I cut my teeth in this trade.
I’m not ashamed to say that I cried this week. They weren’t tears of frustration, or grief, but of joy.
Lerato will get her day, you gave me mine – perhaps the greatest affirmation I’ve ever had of the real importance of doing this job and helping make a difference in others’ lives.