Clo­sure is at hand at last

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

HE IM­PA­TIENCE was be­gin­ning to show last week when Angli­can Arch­bishop of Cape Town Thabo Mak­goba said the coun­try should pray for the fam­i­lies of those who died in the TB Joshua church build­ing col­lapse in La­gos two months ago. He said in a state­ment that griev­ing South Africans had had to wait too long for the repa­tri­a­tion. And in­deed, the South African gov­ern­ment was tak­ing some of the heat for the de­lay as likely del­i­cate diplo­matic en­gage­ments went on around the event be­tween it and the Nige­rian gov­ern­ment.

Nige­rian Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan has other, much big­ger mat­ters on his mind, with elec­tions loom­ing in a cou­ple of months and a tide of dis­sat­is­fac­tion among the elec­torate. World head­lines around dodgy con­struc­tion stan­dards in Nige­ria, such as those ap­par­ently evinced at Joshua’s guest lodge where 85 South Africans died in Septem­ber, can­not be do­ing Nige­ria or Jonathan’s im­age any good among in­vestors,

But the tragedy hurt South Africa far more than it did Nige­ria, which is still con­duct­ing an of­fi­cial in­quiry. And yes­ter­day pre­sented an emo­tional mo­ment for the dozens of friends and rel­a­tives of the wor­ship­pers who trusted that Joshua would take care of them when they at­tended his Synagogue Church of all Na­tions in La­gos.

The tragedy did how­ever put Ja­cob Zuma’s ad­min­is­tra­tion – es­pe­cially Min­is­ter in the Pres­i­dency Jeff Radebe, ap­pointed the spe­cial en­voy to Nige­ria to over­see the repa­tri­a­tion – un­der the whip as pres­sure grew for it to in­ter­vene when Nige­ria seemed to be fail­ing to take the moral lead. It even­tu­ally sent a large team of health work­ers and politi­cians to fa­cil­i­tate the re­turn of the bod­ies.

Ul­ti­mately, should all the re­mains be re­turned to each and ev­ery fam­ily, the dis­con­tent around the treat­ment of their loved ones may be con­tained. But for now, let’s not lose sight of those who mourn.


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