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One year ago, near the picturesque Wild Coast village of Mdatya, while the soothing strains of the Christmas carol “Silent Night, Holy Night” were still echoing tidings of goodwill and peace to all humankind, another child was born in the early hours of New Year’s morn.

Akolwa Ndovela was born, not in a stable but under a Waterberry tree where her mother was hiding with her older siblings, having been chased out of their home by armed thug’s intent on clearing the way for MRC Ltd, an Australian mining company, and their local BEE partner Xolco to mine their ancestral lands for titanium.

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There’s no doubt in my mind that special investigation and national prosecution veteran Willie Hofmeyr is being side-lined by National Director of Public Prosecutions boss Shaun Abrahams.

Call me unscientific and anecdotal, but witnessing his career and behaviour, both since 1994 and against the apartheid riot police in greater Cape Town’s townships in the turbulent, flaming 80’s, convinces me of his integrity.

I watched Hofmeyr prostrate himself in front of the large wheels of a Casspir in Khayelitsha after the notorious Major Dolf Odendaal, (if memory serves), had arrested and loaded then Progressive Federal Party MP and activist, Jan van Eck, into the back of the vehicle. (Van Eck’s “crime”? Being in a township without express permission and/or within sight or sound of ‘’unrest”) Proper use of weird laws.

Today we have weird use of proper laws. I have no doubt about Hofmeyr’s backbone; his career is replete with examples. His superior, well…that’s a different story.

Abrahams has certainly shown very little respect for the track record and experience of his colleague, as this letter of complaint from social worker John GI Clarke to new Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, highlights.

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Since Sanral CEO Nazir Alli announced his retirement in August last year, the Sanral Board has finally settled on Skhumbuzo Macozoma to take over. He first appeared in the pages of Sanral’s Annual Reports as a board member in 2006. Let’s not speculate why it took so long to name a successor when the person was there all the time. I give him the benefit of the doubt and offer him another story to ponder as he acclimatises.

Australians vest pride in the Sydney Harbour Bridge for its design and vital statistics. If they knew what lay beneath the surface and back in history they would be prouder still.

Bill Bryson in his book Down Under describes the bridge;

“From a distance it has a kind of gallant restraint, majestic but not assertive, but up close it is all might. It soars above you, so high that you could pass a ten-storey building beneath it, and looks like the heaviest thing on earth. Everything that is in it – the stone blocks in its four towers, the latticework of girders, the metal plates, the six-million rivets (with heads like halved apples) – is the biggest of its type you have ever seen... This is a great bridge.”

sydney bridge schematic

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About John GI Clarke

John Clarke hopes to write the wrongs of the world, informed by his experience as a social worker and theologian, to actualise fundamental human rights and satisfy fundamental human needs.  He has lived in the urbanised concentration of Johannesburg, but has worked mainly in the rural reaches of the Wild Coast for the past decade.  From having paid a fortune in toll fees he believes he has earned the right to be critical of Sanral and other extractive institutions, and has not held back while supporting Sustaining the Wild Coast (www.swc.org.za), the Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute (www.safcei.org.za) and the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (www.outa.co.za), in various ways.

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