Check­ing out is at least a de­ci­sive ac­tion

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - COMMENT -

HOW typ­i­cally punc­til­ious of the

Swiss that they put the 104-year-old Aus­tralian sci­en­tist David Goodall through some an­noy­ing bu­reau­cratic rig­ma­role when he checked in to check out at one of their as­sisted sui­cide clin­ics.

Ac­cord­ing to re­ports, Goodall was “vis­i­bly frus­trated” with the for­mal pa­per­work re­quired by the Life Cir­cle clinic in Basel be­fore he was per­mit­ted to end his life on Thurs­day. “What are we wait­ing for?” he grum­bled.

But even with the red tape out of the way, death did not come quickly. Goodall was first ques­tioned as to whether he knew who he was, where he was and what he was about to do.

Then he had to turn a wheel that al­lowed a lethal in­fu­sion to flow into his blood­stream through a can­nula on his arm.

His last words, ap­par­ently, were, “This is tak­ing an aw­fully long time.”

In the years be­fore his death, Goodall had cam­paigned for le­gal as­sisted dy­ing in Aus­tralia. Al­though not ter­mi­nally ill, his eye­sight and mo­bil­ity had de­te­ri­o­rated con­sid­er­ably, and his life had stopped be­ing en­joy­able “five or 10 years ago”, he said.

“What I would like,” he told a press con­fer­ence on Wed­nes­day, “is for other coun­tries to fol­low Switzer­land’s lead and make these fa­cil­i­ties avail­able to all clients, if they meet the re­quire­ments and the re­quire­ments not just of age, but of men­tal ca­pac­ity.”

This no­tion of qual­i­fy­ing to end it all in­trigued some of the Ma­hogany Ridge reg­u­lars. Should, on the of­fchance, any of our public ser­vants have a press­ing need to meet their an­ces­tors, would they be per­mit­ted to do so? Cer­tainly, there’d be no short­age of as­sis­tants when it came to help­ing them on their way, but would they pass the men­tal ca­pac­ity test?

This, it must be said, was not meant as a slur or an in­sult but, well, there was, for ex­am­ple, this row over Grace Mu­gabe.

There clearly hasn’t been much in the way of deep think­ing here, judg­ing by what we’re hear­ing from the Pre­to­ria High Court where the DA and AfriFo­rum are seek­ing an or­der to set aside the de­ci­sion to grant Mu­gabe diplo­matic im­mu­nity af­ter she al­legedly at­tacked a young woman with an ex­ten­sion cord in a Sand­ton ho­tel room in Au­gust last year.

It now, how­ever, ap­pears that the then-in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions and co-op­er­a­tion min­is­ter, Maite NkoanaMasha­bane, did not grant Mu­gabe diplo­matic im­mu­nity – but merely “recog­nised” that she had such sta­tus all along.

This, by dint of the fact that she was mar­ried to an el­derly African states­man and did a lot of shop­ping in Jo­han­nes­burg on be­half of Zim­babwe.

It seems rather silly of them that both the DA and Afrifo­rum were not aware of this and may now have wasted the court’s time.

Grace is a for­mer nurse and, if ru­mours from Harare are to be be­lieved, her hus­band is not en­joy­ing his forced re­tire­ment.

Thanks to the vi­o­lent mood swings chez Mu­gabe, he too may be think­ing of a trip to Switzer­land.

Back, though, to Goodall. A bi­ol­o­gist and ecol­o­gist who was an hon­orary re­search as­so­ciate at Perth’s Edith Cowan Univer­sity, he do­nated his body to sci­ence.

This is a good thing and I won­der if there may now be an un­seemly rush for Goodall’s back­bone.

Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa, for one, could do with a bit of spine with re­gard to the cri­sis over North West pre­mier Supra Mahumapelo.

As one po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor put it on a ra­dio show: “The pres­i­dent is a process per­son and, in the process of pro­cess­ing the process, the process has be­come un­man­age­able.”

What that means is that Mahumapelo has gone rogue and the rul­ing party’s cred­i­bil­ity up there is tak­ing a bit of a beat­ing. It’s all a bit like the si­t­u­a­tion with mayor Pa­tri­cia de Lille and the DA in the City of Cape Town. The Patsy de Lillema, as we say.

De­ci­sive ac­tion is needed. Ramaphosa should fol­low the ex­am­ple of Andile Lungisa, the young Nel­son Man­dela Bay ANC coun­cil­lor who smashed a glass jug over the head of for­mer mu­nic­i­pal head of trans­port Rano Kayser in a heated meet­ing in Oc­to­ber 2016. That is the tried and tested way to deal with op­po­nents.

True, Lungisa was this week jailed for an ef­fec­tive two years for as­sault af­ter his ap­pli­ca­tion for leave to ap­peal against his con­vic­tion and sen­tence was dis­missed. But he can still pe­ti­tion the Port El­iz­a­beth High Court.

But, that aside, coun­cil­lors won’t be for­get­ting him in a hurry.

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