Guilt speaks in backing SADF
I TAKE issue with Rodney Warwick’s belief that the SADF was a stabilising force, that there were only a few people refusing to serve, and that there were more women in the End Conscription Campaign (ECC) than men (Weekend Argus, November 14).
I was not a leader in the ECC nor a very serious activist but rather someone who became involved because conscription was a deeply personal issue. Against the wishes and advice of my family I chose not to serve in the SADF because I did not want to take up arms in support of the Nationalist government and their crazy policies.
While only a small number were brave enough to go to jail for objecting to service, tens of thousands of others deliberately avoided conscription. The ECC provided tremendous moral support for those resisting the call-up and a non-violent and creative outlet for the frustrations that we faced.
Rather than the SADF being a force for stability as Warwick claimed, the ar my brought violence wherever deployed. I witnessed atrocities by the army and police in Crossroads and KTC. I was also detained without trial and held in solitary confinement in Pollsmoor prison for peacefully protesting against the army’s involvement in the townships.
I have no respect for people who are unrepentant about serving in the SADF and particularly those who attacked their unarmed fellow countrymen in our townships. The issues involved were too clear-cut to be ignored or to make excuses about promoting stability and preventing chaos.
Everybody had a choice and people like Warwick made the wrong one; that is to go into the SADF and participate in a civil war on the side of what was internationally regarded as the worst fascism since Nazi Germany.
While Warwick was able to live “normally” and embark on a career, many of us were unable to hold down jobs because of the state pressure around conscription. Others spent time in exile or prison rather than “reporting as ordered during my summer vacation” as stated by Warwick.
Instead of making snide remarks about the ECC, Warwick should apologise to the people of South Africa for not only wearing a uniform that symbolised oppression, but also particularly for wearing it on active duty inside his own country.
I wonder how many children he shot at while on his township camps and to what degree his present stance is an attempt to overcome his guilt by justifying his participation. YOUR article “Western Cape schools join the quest for excellence” (October 17), regarding 15 Western Cape high schools recognised for “consistently delivering the right stuff ”, gives the grievously mistaken first impression that this is an objective, independent survey in which all the schools in the province have been independently and objectively assessed.
This is inaccurate, injurious and irresponsible.
I write this letter not only as an aggrieved parent but as someone really fascinated by how a newspaper suggests it is reporting the outcome of an independent educational survey when in fact it is reflecting essentially ill-disguised advertorial content supplied by the delighted schools, relating to a very specific, highly commendable programme with access via invitation only.
In other words, if you haven’t been approached to join the Alan Gray Orbis Foundation or delivered successful candidates in the Allan Gray Fellowship – whether by oversight or intent – you won’t make it into this exclusive circle.
This is no fault of the entirely laudable AGO Foundation programme, which is entitled to nominate whoever it wishes for whatever reasons it chooses. It is just questionable journalism on the part of your newspaper.
Reddam House College – the school my child attends – stands tall among the majority of the institutions reflected in the article both in terms of consistently delivering academic excellence and actively stimulating and promoting entrepreneurship. And it’s not just about resources – some of the more under-resourced schools in this circle may well stand out as centres of entrepreneurial excellence – it’s about the school culture.
I’m proud to be a part of a school that is not only in the top academic, cultural and sporting echelons in the Western Cape and the country, but actively nurtures and encourages individuality, personal growth, self-confidence and freedom of expression – as well as promoting the spirit of giving back, which happens to be the school’s motto: “We shall give back”.
There are many other schools well worthy of consideration which are not part of the Alan Gray Orbis Foundation. Numerous state and independent Western Cape schools spring to mind.
So forgive me if I’m a bit miffed at your so-called independent survey, because your circle is quite simply incomplete.