A collective shame on us all
IT IS impossible to overstate the tragedy that unfolded when a high mast light in Soshanguve fell on children playing underneath it last Saturday. We could not possibly fathom the extent of anguish and grief the families must be dealing with at the sudden loss of their children.
In the midst of this tragedy, we have to find ways that will ensure that the deaths of the five children are not in vain. Lessons must be learnt to ensure that a similar tragedy is prevented.
The City of Tshwane blamed the deaths on infrastructure theft, particularly vandals intent on electricity cable theft.
Needless to say, not everyone agrees with this, and in our view, correctly so. This is not to say that vandalism is not the issue, but it cannot be the only issue.
As Energy Minister David Mahlobo observed when visiting the affected families and the site of the tragedy yesterday: “We might not be hardcore engineers but we could see there might have been something wrong. There might be issues of vandalism, issues of maintenance, and it’s a discussion we will have with the municipality to make the area safer.”
The city does bear responsibility for maintenance. We go further to add that vandalism is a community problem that can only be policed by the vigilance of those who live in the affected areas. The tendency to treat workingclass communities as helpless against, or indifferent to, vandalism is ahistoric and insulting.
It’s time the police, city government and local communities found forums to work together to ensure that infrastructure is built, maintained and protected. It is a collective responsibility, just as the deaths of these young souls should be a collective shame on all of us.