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Happy Holidays Turn Unhappy for Many in South Africa



My South African and British readers have to keep in mind that I am complying with the grammar rules of the USA, and therefore some words will be spelled "wrong" according to the rules of Oxford English.

In South Africa, more tragedies happen during December than any other time of the year, while this month should comprise Happy Holidays for all and a Merry Christmas for Christians. But instead of having fun during a holiday at the coast, or a well-earned rest at home, many people are coping with adversities. Loss of property and loss of loved-ones are especially tragic at this time of the year.

One of many road accidents in South Africa during the Festive Season  2016

One of many road accidents in South Africa during the Festive Season 2016

One of many road accidents in South Africa during the Festive Season  2016

One of many road accidents in South Africa during the Festive Season 2016

One of many road accidents in South Africa during the Festive Season  2016

One of many road accidents in South Africa during the Festive Season 2016

More horrible car accidents in a year happen in December

In South Africa, more road accidents happen during December. On Christmas Day only half of the festive season is over, and already more people than last year this time have died on the country’s roads.

“There are 845 fatalities recorded since December 1st - an increase of 17% in comparison to the previous year’s same period,” announced the Minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters, on Tuesday, December 20th.

She provided statistics:

  • 82% of the accidents were caused by human error.
  • 33% of all accidents were caused by men.
  • 40% of all those killed were passengers.
  • 33% were pedestrians.
  • 27% were drivers.
  • Most of the drivers were irresponsible and reckless, and some were under the influence of alcohol.

Minister Peters strongly advocated for the reclassification of driving while under the influence as a more serious offense.

More drownings occur in December

Besides rivers, dams and private pools, the Indian and Atlantic oceans claim many lives during December, the season that is supposed to be blessed and happy. South Africa has over 3,000 km (1864 miles) of coastline, and during December beaches are the most popular destinations.

At least 30 people have drowned since the start of the December holidays. ‘At least’ means some bodies of drowned people are still missing.

Crime multiplies during the festive season in December

In particular, incidents of robbery and burglary increase during December, as people are on holiday, leaving their homes unattended. Serious heists seem to multiply - for example:

  • Cash-in-transit heists at the N1 City Vangate Mall, Cape Town, at a Goodwood shopping wall, and also at Silverstores, Gatesville.
  • Shops owners in Cape Town are experiencing a reign of terror by armed criminals targeting businesses.
  • Jewelry heist at the East Rand Mall, Boksburg on December 15th , and at Liberty Midlands Mall, Pietermaritzburg on December 6th .
  • The umpteenth school was torched on Wednesday 21st by robbers who were initially there to steal smart tablets. A similar method to gain entry was used at a previous school where tablets were stolen earlier in the year.
  • 360 safety deposit boxes were stolen on Sunday, December 18th in a brazen heist at First National Bank Randburg branch. The thieves reportedly tied up the security guard on duty and then spent at least twelve hours gaining access to the safety deposit box section with a jackhammer‚ before loading the locked boxes into a waiting van. The small print of the lease agreement with the bank stipulates that the bank will not be legally responsible to lessees under any circumstances for any loss or damage that may occur to the contents”.

"Criminals who are under the impression that this festive season is a good time to enrich themselves with other people’s cash without any interference from the long arm of the law must reconsider their thoughts, because we are operationally ready to deal with any occurrence whatsoever," warned the Police.


”Be patient when calling 10111,” said Top Cop, acting National Police Chief, Lieutenant-General Khomotso Phahlane, on Thursday, after many citizens alleged that they could not use the emergency line successfully.

“As far as the 10111 is concerned, like any other number, there is a peak when too many calls are being made. There is congestion, so we call upon our people just to exercise patience in terms of the waiting period. You call any call centre, somewhere they tell you that you are number 20 in the queue,” Phahlane explained.

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Some people spend Christmas in jail

The forty-three-year old stepfather who allegedly killed three-year old Poppie van der Merwe by giving her a hard blow to the head after repeatedly kicking her, is in jail, awaiting his trial. Poppie's mother has also been charged with murder and was denied bail on Monday.

Poppie was no angel. She often played rough and sometimes bullied her older brother,” claimed Poppie’s stepfather, Kobus Koekemoer, in his denied bail application on November 29th.

Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Jackson, who were accused of beating and forcing Victor Mlotswa into a coffin were denied bail and are awaiting trial in jail.

The student of the Durban University of Technology, Bonginkosi Khanyile, who was accused of using a slingshot during the recent FeesMustFall protests, is still in jail after bail was denied. He was arrested three months ago for inciting violence and damage to property.

On Friday December 23rd, 22-year old Tsepang Mokhali was sentenced to six life terms for murder and twelve years for armed robbery after he was convicted of killing a woman and her five children in December 2012.

Blade Runner Oscar Pistorius is spending his second Christmas in jail after being convicted of killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine’s Day 2013.

King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo of the AbaThembu ethnic groupis spending his first Christmas in jail serving a sentence of fifteen years for culpable homicide, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, arson, and kidnapping. His sentence has subsequently been reduced to twelve years.

Three men will spend Christmas in jail after they intimidated and assaulted healthcare workers on December 14th at KwaDukuza Clinic in KZN. Possibly under the influence of alcohol they brought an injured colleague to the clinic. An argument with staff turned violent. They have been charged with assault, intimidation and malicious damage to government property. Their next appearance in court is scheduled for December 28th.

Mark Scott-Crossley committed a second racist crime after being released on parole in 2008. He was tried and convicted in 2004 for causing the death of one of his workers by throwing him into a lion enclosure. On Wednesday, December 14th he attacked Silence Mabunda by grabbing and smashing his cellphone, and then repeatedly driving over him. Mr Mabunda, who is in hospital allegedly fighting for his life, told journalists that Mark “…. drove over me and then reversed. He drove over me twice and then just drove away.” Unfortunately, Police have yet to make an arrest.

According to available statistics, about 160,000 people are spending Christmas in one of South Africa’s 240 prisons, while NSFAS (National Student Financial Aid Scheme) has received 203,000 applications by students who want to study at a university in 2017.

Continuous awkward and tactless statements made by South Africa’s president -

President Zuma explained why he ‘axed’ a minister of finance last year in December and instantly caused a financial disaster, known today as 'the Nene disaster'. He called it ‘a Cabinet reshuffle’ – the seventh since he took power in 2009.

"December last year I took a decision… and (then) the monopoly (white) capital and their friends and stooges attacked me, and they are still attacking me today….” President Zuma told two-thousand members of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) on Thursday. "They (the monopoly capital) can paint you black when you are not black at all because they have the economic capacity to do so."

He told the youth that many poor people who had committed minor crimes are in jail because they did not have economic power and therefore they were not able to hire the best lawyers. He said, “People with economic power, they can commit crime, murder, everything, but they have the best legal brains and they don't go to prison. So the suffering (under white monopoly capital) is felt continuously".

He called on the youth to take radical steps "so that we have economic power".

The president of the ANCYL, Collen Maine, sounded even more like the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) - the 3rd largest political party in SA, characterized as radical, leftist, anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, pro-socialist, and revolutionary. In his response to President Zuma's speech, Maine said the league WANTS and NEEDS the rand to fall so that when it rises again, white monopoly will no longer be in control.

Maine was slammed by economists on Friday, December 23rd. They warned politicians to think twice before making reckless remarks about the economy. Economist Mike Schussler tried to explain what would happen if the rand falls.

"All prices will go up - paraffin, petrol, milk, maize - and it will become more difficult to create jobs."

According to his response, the president of the ANC Youth League did not grasp a word of this.

Political analysts and economist are concerned!

In Zimbabwe

Meanwhile in one of South Africa’s neighboring countries, Zimbabwe, President, Robert Mugabe, splashes $6-million on a holiday of six weeks in Singapore as his country's financial sector suffers a liquidity crisis, with no quick solution in sight, and while at least 90% of the country's citizens are unemployed and hungry.

Zimbawe’s opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change, described Mugabe's trip to the Far East as "an expensive an unnecessary vacation".


Opinion of an owfma-sa

This owfma-sa (ordinary white female middle-aged South African) regards December as a special time of the year when one should make peace with everybody and everything that did not meet one’s expectations during the past year. As such, my deepest and most sincere wish is for God to be with us all. May his Spirit instill love, peace, and wisdom in all.


Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on January 08, 2017:

Nadine May – Thank you in anticipation :)

Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on January 07, 2017:

I will look out for some positive SA news and send the links to your Facebook message.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on January 07, 2017:

Hi Mike, I am honestly not focusing on the wrongs, but on the most noteworthy news of the week. Week after week I wait in anticipation for something right and good to happen. It seems if I am waiting in vain. Whatever becomes noteworthy is more wrong than right. Why, lord, why? I think it is good to know that South Africa is not the only country who is suffering from the doings of inherently evil people.

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on January 03, 2017:

Hello Martie - I am getting the sense that you have taken on the responsibility to shine the spotlight on the many wrongs in your area. One thing you make clear is that humanity is being stretched to the limits all over the globe.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on January 01, 2017:

Nellieanna – Happy New Year to you, my dear CM. We will, most certainly, handle whatever comes our way :)

Nellieanna Hay from TEXAS on January 01, 2017:

Hugs, Martie! 2017 is here. Hoping for the best; prepared for the worst. It can be a fair distribution of both, leaning towards the best, because we're in it! We'll handle it all.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on January 01, 2017:

Nell Rose – I hope you hope for SA will manifest in 2017 more than ever before. Thank you so much for your continuous support, dear Nell :)

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on January 01, 2017:

Nellieanna – Now that’s a mouthful and truly usable guideline for fighting injustice. Thank you, dear Nellieanna :)

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on January 01, 2017:

Nadine May – I would so much like to write about the good things, but just can’t find enough useable information on the Internet. I am waiting in anticipation for something good to become the most noteworthy news of the week. Please, feel free to send me some tips, Nadine. Keeping the countries north of SA in mind, and especially Syria, we are living in Paradise.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on January 01, 2017:

AliciaC – For some reason or another I am quite positive on this first day of 2017. The good changes still outnumbers the bad incidents. Thanks you so much for your continuous support.

Nell Rose from England on December 31, 2016:

As you said it should be a time of peace, not all this hurt, anger and so on, I hope you and yours have a wonderful New Year Martie, and I hope that South Africa gets its peace soon.

Nellieanna Hay from TEXAS on December 30, 2016:

How right you are, Martie! Injustice must be opposed and often that is most effectively done by meeting it with determined, unflinching, indomitable, inarguable, informed, knowledgeable,nonnegotiable, persistent, prevalent, unyielding, fierce peacefulness, which is an individual's strongest statement, weapon and armor which cannot be conquered except by handing it over to tyrants. Aggression is vulnerable.

Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on December 30, 2016:

Wow Martie you do say it all. I'm sure there is more, but then there are countries where there is just as much poverty,crime and horrific stories going around what the leaders of communities in the world are capable off. For that reason alone I rarely if never watch the news. SA TV is not worth watching anyway. I'm not in denial but I rather focus my attention on the good things our country has to offer. Yes what you wrote all happened, but let your next article be on what people did in SA to help others during these times. Like going around the locations sending food parcels, toys and entertainment. All by volunteers from all walks of life. I still have hope for our rainbow nation.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on December 29, 2016:

You've shared more sad, surprising and shocking news from South Africa, Martie. I hope 2017 is a better year for your country, but I can see that lots of changes need to be made.

Happy New Year to you. I hope 2017 is good for you personally.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on December 26, 2016:

MsDora – Maintaining inner peace is quite a challenge. Praying for each other is a powerful way of achieving many goals. Keeping the faith is essential. Thanks so much for your support, MsDorah.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on December 26, 2016:

Dear always exploring – boot scootin’ pal is such an adorable description. Just love it. I am trying my utmost best to find something positive to report. Why, we only hear about the bad? Happy New Year to you, too, dear Ruby!

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on December 26, 2016:

Shyron E Shenko – Ditto to you, my friend. May the year ahead be good to all of us :)

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on December 26, 2016:

kallini2010 – Fortunately, most statistics can be confirmed by daily news and documentaries, and also queried and proved as false by competitive organizations. What can we say about it? It happened; it is part of the past. But the truth can lead us forward, and enable us to create even stronger ways to prevent or control whatever causes unacceptable statistics. There was a time when I was the organizer and hostess of family gatherings during the December holidays. Now that was stressful! Lol!

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on December 26, 2016:

shanmarie – There was a time I could not listen to the 7:00am news. I would be upset for the entire day. But funny, after the 3rd successive day, one becomes blasé, or simply not-involved. Then the news becomes like a soap-opera, and you know how addictive soapies are. I’ve had a peaceful and happy Christmas weekend. Fortunately – and I always feel guilty when I say this - the Bad has missed me again.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on December 26, 2016:

Nellieanna – You and I have been on the same page since the beginning. We merely use different words in a different way to express our identical convictions. Because of this, I feel so much stronger, knowing that I am not off-track and not alone. We should never allow injustice to prevail, and it will prevail if we don’t wage war against it. Lots of hugs to you, dear Nellieanna.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on December 26, 2016:

billybuc – The same to you, Billybuc! I appreciate your support and friendship :)

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on December 26, 2016:

fpherj48 – Here are more good people than bad people, indeed. Sadly, bad people seem to be more powerful – disturbing the peace, destroying happiness, depriving people of hope and faith. Restoring all of this, demands physical and spiritual energy. Good people become tired while bad people rave until death or the right arm of the law stop them.

Paula, I appreciate your loyal support from the bottom of my heart. Hugs!

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on December 26, 2016:

Dear marcoujor – I believe that happiness and peace depends on an individual’s ability to cope with reality. A Positive mind, faithful and forgiving soul, strong and resilient spirit, is what we need to stay ‘in charge’ of all circumstances, like walking on a stormy sea instead of sinking. I hope your Christmas weekend was just as peaceful as mine :)

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on December 26, 2016:

sallybea – Maybe there was a time when one could shot their eyes and live without knowing anything about the bad, but I’m afraid the bad nowadays enters one’s personal zone to shock the living daylight out of you. A well-known citizen of our town, who lived less than 2 miles from me, was brutally killed on Christmas Eve, and a farm-attack in our district left 4 people seriously injured. I am sure when I open my eyes I will see a lot more of this badness in my immediate region, and not to talk about in the rest of the country.

Gathering some history I need for a column which has now turned into a novelette, I realize that SA was never a safe country to live in. Between hostile natives, greedy British, Apartheid and now corrupt leaders and soulless criminals, surviving is merely thanks to the mercy of God. However, I know there are worse countries to live in. I should not complain.

Fact: Here is still more good and beautiful than bad and ugly down here :)

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on December 26, 2016:

Seems that crimes and fatalities do not let up at any time in your country. I join your readers who pray for your inner peace and protection. Keep the faith, Martie.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on December 26, 2016:

Martie, it seems like people could find some compassion at this special time of year. Inequality around the world harbors hate and unrest, not just in SA but everywhere greed is the master. I never thought that my boot scootin' pal would become a top-notch reporter, but it has happened! Thank you for keeping us aware of the events in your part of the world. Best wishes for a happy New Year. Hugs...

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on December 25, 2016:

Dear Martie, just know that your Hub family is praying for you and I am grateful for your friendship. Blessings and hugs dear friend.

kallini2010 from Toronto, Canada on December 25, 2016:

Dearest Martie,

I have read your article earlier today and, frankly, did not know what to say. I know, for example, that happy occasions sometimes are more stressful than unhappy ones. More people die from their own hands on holidays.

Maybe it's the same trend - a special occasion, a special (unusual) behaviour. Surely, celebrations wreak not havoc, but differences in all around the world.

One just has left to wonder about statistics.

Shannon Henry from Texas on December 25, 2016:


I think there's a difference between a pessimist and an informed optimist. And I don't think you are a pessimist even when you're discouraged.

You make me smile with references to your grandfather. That speaks very much to the sentimentalist in me. You even make me smile at the thought of you interrupting him while he watched the news. Funny how even those things can become endearing once we grow up. :)

It's probably true that the older we get, the more interested we are in what goes on in the world around us, beyond us rather. When we are younger, our personal bubble only seems to extend so far for most of the time. But I must confess that even as an adult, I still do not care much for the news. It's not that I do not like being informed or that I do not care what is happening beyond my own personal existence. On the contrary, I care quite a bit. However, so much of the news, as you say, reports only the negative side of things. There's a segment on my local news station that I believe is called "Tell Me Something Good" and viewers submit good stories to focus on. Things like local heroes making a difference somehow in the community or other kinds of heartwarming stories. I like to know those things too. It helps keep things balanced. I firmly believe that there is always hope. Those stories remind me of that, but I still do not watch the news avidly. I get burnt out on all the negative if I do.

I certainly hope that you and your family had a wonderful Christmas holiday together, however you chose to spend it.

Nellieanna Hay from TEXAS on December 25, 2016:

Dearest Martie, it is horrific that atrocities and negatives prevail to the extent that they do any time, any place; but yes, it seems most magnified when occurring during the season set aside for generosity among those of good-will and caring for those less fortunate.

Brings down the truth that we cannot force others to do anything of their own free will. Those who wreck the bad stuff do it by trying to force others to their wills, and they leave devastation in their paths. It's been the history of the world, really. It's the essence of good vs. bad.

It's sad that people of good will are powerless to overcome that and to prevail. But that's not altogether how it is. Good will can and does prevail, but only by asserting itself, never by mimicking the ill-will of those others. Love overcomes hatred by being love and behaving like love, though it may not change hatred. Hatred can only multiply hatred if love succumbs to it by behaving like hatred itself.

I'm thinking of you---and of all those suffering during these trying times.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on December 25, 2016:

Just a quick Merry Christmas, Martie, to you and yours. Thank you for your friendship.

Suzie from Carson City on December 25, 2016:

Martie.....Despite the sadness, chaos and crime that some very indecent people choose to create~~please know that there are those of goodness and peace, like yourself and family, who bring the love and joy of this blessed Holiday. Know too, that your loyal Hub Family keeps you close at heart. Much Love, Paula

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on December 25, 2016:

With each week's noteworthy news, I'm more convinced that our worlds mirror each others... a world filled with both decent, moral people and people without a moral compass.

Reality can set in no matter what time of year. It seems especially cruel and senseless for evil to occur at a sacred time or place. These are times when people discover how strong and resilient they can be.

Sending you all my love and a guardian angel to watch over you and yours. Merry Christmas, dear girlfriend.

Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on December 25, 2016:

Singularly depressing and it seems nothing has changed since I lived in SA. Perhaps it has even got worse! One can't shut one's eyes and pretend this is not happening but the fact is more of the same is happening the world over, all in the spirit of Christmas. I hope in spite of the above you still have a happy family time and a very happy new year. Merry Christmas.

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on December 25, 2016:

shanmarie - A pessimist could be, like me, an informed optimists. But I am not yet in a state of despair. Still have hope and faith. Here is still more good than bad, more beautiful than ugly, and much to be grateful for.

Personally I complain with white bread under my arm – as we say when we complain while having everything our heart desires. But in this series I am reporting the most noteworthy trend of events, and as you know, the good and the beautiful seldom if ever reach the pages of a newspaper.

I actually miss the time when I had no interest in the news. My world was small, just big enough for me, my close family, and my job with all it entailed. Nowadays, however, I am indulging in politics like addicts in drugs, reminding myself of my grandfather who never missed a news bulletin on the radio (before TV). Woe us children those days when we made a noise that prevented him from hearing what’s been reported. Maybe age has something to do with this getting addicted to news?

Also read my reply on Flourish’s comment with regards to the emergency number.

Thanks for your generous comment, dear Shannon!

Martie Coetser (author) from South Africa on December 25, 2016:

FlourishAnyway – Imagine having an emergency and you have to wait for someone to answer your call! Totally unacceptable!

However, we have a saying, “A Boer (Afrikaans-speaking white South African) makes a plan."

So, we have established neighborhood watches and are permanently connected with all members via a cellphone application. The neighborhood watch cooperates with the police, but while the emergency number of the government is on hold, and the police, when called by the watch, take their time to react, neighbors come to each other’s rescue. So, we say ‘up yours’ to our incompetent government and its incompetent employees.

Unfortunately, tragedies still happen, and especially on the roads and remote farms.

Shannon Henry from Texas on December 24, 2016:

Way to put things in to perspective, Martie! Unfortunately, I cannot just say you're being pessimistic and leave it at that because it's the facts you've reported and not your opinions. I do like that you included an uplifting opinion at the end, though.

It seems like theft, especially, goes up this time of year in the U.S. And home fires because of trees and lights causing problems. And since it is typically cold here, there is often more focus on the homeless during the holidays. But, in general, I think many people are either too Scroogish to care or just try to keep spreading holiday cheer any way they can. I suppose that's all we can really do. Year-round. Just try to spread kindness more than anything else.

On a side note. . .Flourish, I think you're right. There are times when 911 gets overwhelmed, too, but you can pretty much count on a dispatcher staying on the phone with the caller until help arrived, if necessary. And they will always at the very least hear what the emergency is. Of course, they are also very strict about not calling the 911 number if it is not an emergency. For a non-emergency we should call the police or fire department directly. But I would be confident in saying that if there is a delay in response time, it's usually not because of the emergency call center, but rather not enough first-responders to handle the volume of calls. Hopefully, your government figures out a solution to that sooner rather than later instead of dismissing it as if it is a business call center.

And Merry Christmas, my friend!

FlourishAnyway from USA on December 24, 2016:

Our emergency number is 911 and I cannot imagine being told to basically just wait your turn because you're 20th in the queue. People need to demand better, not only from their government but from themselves and each other.

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