Monday, August 21, 2017

KPMG’s questionable behaviour goes beyond Gupta companies

Yet another scandal means it’s time for some changes in the auditing industry

By GroundUp Editors
22 August 2017

Image of KPMG logo
KPMG has not lived up to a promise on its website: “Above all, we act with integrity”. KPMG logo copied for fair use
Once again, auditing firm KPMG is at the centre of a controversy.

First there was its role in the SARS “rogue unit” claims published by the Sunday Times. In an unpublished but leaked report KPMG recommended that Pravin Gordhan, finance minister at the time, be investigated for starting the unit. But as we now know, there was no rogue unit. The story was a concoction to get rid of Gordhan and further the aims of the state capturers.

Now the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors is investigating KPMG for the “2014 audit of Linkway Trading, the company alleged to be involved in the Gupta wedding scandal.”

Readers may remember that it was also KPMG which wrote a report for the company at the centre of the social grant payments crisis, Net1. The report essentially cleared Net1 of wrongdoing. But as an analysis published on GroundUp shows, the report failed to ask the right questions.

KPMG is one of the “Big Four” audit companies in the world. In the 1990s there were eight. Through mergers this became five. Then Arthur Andersen went down in flames because of its bogus auditing of oil company Enron. So now there are four. These firms have a virtual monopoly on big audits. And there’s no reason to believe that Arthur Andersen’s corruption was unique, given the inherent conflict of interest in the relationship between the auditing and the audited. The audit companies bid for business from, and are paid by, the very companies they’re auditing.

Instead of listed companies directly hiring audit firms, would it not be better if they paid audit fees to the stock exchange where they are listed? The stock exchange could randomly select an auditor from a list of high quality audit firms and pay the auditor directly. Audit firms could regularly tender to be on the list, which would include many besides the Big Four. The audit firm could be assigned to a company for a few years because rotating auditors too frequently is burdensome, but they must rotate regularly.

This is not a guarantee against corruption but it might go some way to making sure that KPMG (and the others) live up to the promise on the KPMG website: “We seek the facts and provide insight”. “Above all, we act with integrity”.

GroundUp will be publishing occasional editorials on topics we report on. This is the first one. 

Published originally on GroundUp .

Clashes in Khayelitsha following land occupation

“I have no source of income because I’m jobless but I have to pay R500 to my landlord monthly”

By Vincent Lali, Mary-Anne Gontsana and Thembela Ntongana
21 August 2017
Photo of ward councillor
The office of ward councilor Anele Gabuza was set alight, and his house was vandalised. Photo: Vincent Lali
Disputes over housing in Khayelitsha spilled over on Sunday when people set alight and vandalised a community centre that contains the local ward councillor’s office. They also vandalised the councillor’s house. These acts were in response to the Anti-Land Invasion Unit attempting to stop a land occupation near Monwabisi Beach in Endlovini by several dozen people.

The occupiers are fighting to be part of an upcoming housing development.

The ward councillor, Anele Gabuza, told GroundUp that he held a meeting with the occupiers a week ago about the allocation of the houses that will be built: “They said they want to be part of the development because they are backyarders and also deserve houses. I told them that I cannot give them houses because the houses have already been assigned to beneficiaries by the City of Cape Town. I also told them to give me a list with their complaints and their names that I would take to the City and hopefully we would come up with a solution.”

After the occupation on Sunday the Anti-Land Invasion Unit began demolishing the shacks that were being erected. Gabuza said the demolitions began before he had a chance to talk to the City. He said that out of anger, the occupiers burned and vandalised his office and house.

The housing development will apparently accommodate 6,000 beneficiaries from Endlovini, and it would be divided into two phases. Phase 1 will be next to the False Bay College and Phase 2 would be in Endlovini.

Occupiers who GroundUp spoke to said they could not afford to carry on living where they were. Khauta Tsiboli, 32, said he had been living in a shack that belongs to his friends who are living in the Eastern Cape. “The owners of the shack say I must now move out because they are planning on coming back,” he said.

Tsiboli, who lives with three teenage children, was shot with a rubber bullet while the Anti-land Invasion Unit clashed with the occupiers. “A young policeman confronted and ordered me to leave with my shack. I refused point blank and he shot me here,” said Tsiboli, pointing to a wound on his back.

Tsiboli continued to rebuild his demolished shack while police watched from their vehicles some distance away. “I must get my own place to stay now,” he said.

Amanda Kobo, 40, said she built a shack on municipal land because she was fed-up with staying in a shack with her young brother who has a wife and children. “I want to have my own place and fend for myself,” she said. Kobo said she relied on jobs such as cleaning houses and looking after children for a living. “I have sacrificed money to buy bread and instead bought building materials, so the Anti-Land Invasion Unit broke my heart when they tore down my shack,” she said. Hammer in hand, Kobo said: “I have no choice but to rebuild the shack so I can have my own place to stay.”

Another occupier, who has three young children was attempting to rebuild her demolished shack. “I have no source of income because I’m jobless, but I have to pay R500 to my landlord monthly. Sometimes I char in Wynberg, but work is scarce and the money I earn can’t pay rent,” she said. “I have nowhere else to go, so I’m forced to rebuild the shack so that I can have a roof over my head.”

Other residents said they built shacks on the land for their “mature children” so they could have privacy at home. “My kid has turned 18 and he now needs to have his own place where he can have fun with his girlfriends far away from me,” said a 37-year-old woman. She said: “We both need privacy as I can’t sleep with a man in one room while he is also sleeping with his girlfriend in another room in the same shack.”

“I don’t want him to see me date one boyfriend today and another tomorrow because he will have a low opinion of me,” she added.

Simphiwe Mzalwane, 38, who built a shack for his brother on the municipal land, blamed Gabhuza for mishandling the occupation. “The ward councillor should have left the Anti-land Invasion Unit behind and addressed the residents,” he said. “He angered the residents by bringing the Anti-Land Invasion Unit.”

The occupiers damaged chairs, windows and doors and dirtied the community hall. Gabuza said they destroyed windows and frightened his family at his house. He said: “Two police vans were already here when the mob came and torched the hall.” But the police ran away, he said.

Gabuza said he was willing to talk with the residents together with the City to come up with a plan about how they can be accommodated.

The area is bushy and it will be difficult for the Anti-Land Invasion Unit to stop the occupation. As of Sunday evening, it was ongoing.

Western Cape police spokesperson Noloyiso Rwexana said two suspects aged 31 and 36 were arrested for public violence. They are expected to appear at the Khayelitsha Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

Published originally on GroundUp .

Grace Mugabe: why diplomatic immunity isn't always an 'out of jail' ticket

File 20170821 27163 jy38xl

Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe with her husband, President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe.
EPA/Khaled el-Fiqi

Grace Mugabe, the wife of President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, is accused of assaulting a young woman while on a visit to South Africa. A week after the incident in a hotel in Sandton, Johannesburg’s upmarket central business district, a South African government minister announced that she had been granted diplomatic immunity. She has subsequently returned to Zimbabwe without any attempt by the South African Police Service to arrest her.

The incident has sparked a furious debate about whether she should have been granted immunity, and what this means for the victim of the alleged assault.

At the time of the alleged assault Grace Mugabe was on a private, not official, visit to South Africa. She wasn’t granted immunity before her visit and it’s not clear on what basis she’s now been granted it. Normally diplomatic immunity is granted to an individual envoy by prior agreement, or by the Minister of International Relations if it is in the interests of a country.

Since it is conceivable that Grace Mugabe might visit South Africa again in future it’s worth reviewing the rules, considerations and implications of diplomatic immunity.

Rules governing diplomatic immunity

Grace Mugabe was neither a visiting head of state or government, nor a diplomat representing her country – both of which would have qualified her for diplomatic immunity.

There is no basis in customary, conventional international law or domestic law for the spouse of a head of state to claim – as a right or entitlement – some form of immunity when visiting a foreign state.

A foreign state – in this case South Africa – can, of course, grant immunity. But there’s a legal framework that governs this. In her case, as the spouse of a foreign head of state, she could be granted immunity from the criminal and civil jurisdiction of the courts in South Africa if, for instance, she was on a visit as an envoy of her country to attend an international conference, or if she was accompanying her husband on an official visit. The fact that she happens to be an important person isn’t a good enough criterium.

In other words, it’s not status that serves as a basis for granting immunity. Rather, it’s the nature of the person’s visit.

South Africa’s Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Act gives the minister of International Relations and Cooperation the power to grant immunity to foreign visitors who represent their countries on official business. The act sets out how this must be done. If there’s no prior agreement that already covers the visit, a notice must be published in the Government Gazette.

What’s clear is that the spouses of foreign heads of states, members of foreign royal families, international celebrities and the like, can’t be granted immunity on a whim. There are laws, protocols, and procedures to be followed.

Formalities aside, it’s also important to keep in mind the underlying rationale of diplomatic immunity in international law and international relations. Diplomatic immunity is a principle with ancient roots and forms an integral part of international relations. At the heart of it is the idea that diplomats – or others representing their countries or international organisations – must be able to pursue their official duties free from interference by the host state.

Foreign envoys who are granted immunity therefore enjoy immunity from the criminal and civil jurisdiction of the courts of the host country.

What about justice for the victim?

Diplomatic immunity can indeed be seen as a shield against accountability for criminal conduct or civil obligations. The abuse of diplomatic immunity can therefore lead to impunity.

If a person who enjoys diplomatic immunity is accused of a crime, and their immunity isn’t waived, it’s normal practice for the host country to declare the person to be persona non grata. They are then expected to leave the country. But that also means there is no justice for the victim of the crime.

Nevertheless it’s important to remember that the immunity initially granted to the diplomat or envoy does not attach to that person in his or her personal capacity. It would have to have been granted in one or other other official capacity.

The right to institute a prosecution for most crimes (including assault) lapses only after 20 years. There are exceptions. This right never lapses in the case of serious offences such as murder, rape, robbery with aggravated circumstances, and the atrocity crimes of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

It’s conceivable that a person who once enjoyed diplomatic immunity, but who no longer benefits from it, will face justice at some future date. This assumes that they find themselves back in the country in which the alleged crime took place.

It would be hard to justify continued immunity for someone accused of a crime given that criminal conduct, including assault, is not normally associated with official business between two sovereign states.

That’s not to say that the victim can easily get justice. Diplomatic immunity conferred on visiting envoys and representatives means immunity from prosecution and civil action. This means that a victim will be frustrated in their quest for justice in the courts.

The ConversationHowever, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Taking into account the rules around the prescription of the right to institute prosecution of crime, and the underlying rationale of diplomatic immunity as a tool to facilitate official political and commercial relations between sovereign states, it can be argued that diplomatic immunity isn’t the impenetrable shield of impunity imagined by some.

Gerhard Kemp, Professor of Criminal Law and International Criminal Law, Stellenbosch University

This article was originally published on The Conversation.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Cold War kids: This time it's youth, not ideology, igniting unrest

File 20170816 32614 1ogsdzg

High school children sit in front of a billboard featuring Ché Guevera in Cienfuegos, Cuba.

Just when you thought the Cold War could be consigned to museums and thrillers like The Hunt for Red October, along came Donald Trump’s threats of “fire and fury” in North Korea and military intervention in socialist Venezuela.

And then there’s the even more bizarre case of Cuba.

In a twist worthy of a John Le Carré novel, diplomats from the United States and Canada stationed on the island nation fell ill in the past year due to some sort of “sonic attack.” The diplomats suffered hearing loss, nausea and other symptoms similar to a concussion.

After they returned home, an investigation only deepened the mystery. Was Russia involved? And what about the turn toward dictatorship in Venezuela: Was Cuba pulling the strings? The Cold War was back and hotter than any time since Ronald Reagan joked about bombing the Soviet Union.

While the Cold War was a war of ideas between revolutionary movements and economic theories, this latest dust-up between Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro, and Trump obscures the fact that across the Americas, the new battle does not break along traditional ideological lines of right versus left. While it may look like the Cold War Redux, a closer look reveals a generational divide as opposed to a political one.

Ideology everywhere

As a doctoral student specializing in the cultural Cold War in Latin America, I saw how ideological polemics permeated everything: from folk music to the poetry of Pablo Neruda, so much depended on one’s position on controversies like the Cuban Revolution, the civil wars in Central America and the status of Puerto Rico.

Then I went to Cuba. I studied Afro-Cuban percussion with a religious man whose only framed portrait in his living room was a photo of him hugging Fidel Castro, even though the Revolution often marginalized and denigrated manifestations of his Afro-Cuban religion.

The same people who loved to sing the popular ode to Ché Guevara, Hasta siempre, Comandante, were budding capitalists, running small restaurants or ferrying tourists around in their 1950s Oldsmobiles as a side hustle to their “real jobs.” The people most adept at the side hustle or startup weren’t necessarily more right-wing than their status quo compatriots. But they were definitely younger.

Guevara, who spelled out the ethos of the “authentic” revolutionary in an essay called “Socialism and the New Man in Cuba”, would have been outraged. The ultimate goal of the revolution was to replace monetary incentives — capitalism in any form —with the moral incentive of building a just, fair and equitable society under socialism.

Side jobs needed to survive

While Guevara died fighting for this cause in the jungles of Bolivia, his ideas endure: Tu ejemplo vive – “your example lives on” – is a popular billboard throughout the country.

A building in Cienfuegos, Cuba.

As president of the National Bank, Guevara was happy to preside over the demise of the Cuban tourist industry. Tourism, for the revolutionaries, replicated structures of neocolonialism and exploitation. (He urged everyone to get out and cut sugarcane to help build the nation).

Today, visitors can now go on pricey tours of the small organic farms run by a new generation of cuentapropistas (small-scale entrepreneurs) that have popped up in the last decade.

“You always need another job on the side,” a driver on the road from Santiago to Holguin told me. He was a cellist in Santiago’s symphony orchestra, a prestigious position. But with a salary of around $30 a month, he could not take care of his most basic needs. “Maybe some people can do it,” he said, “but I don’t see how.”

In Venezuela, meanwhile, some of the most vocal opposition on the streets is not from the disenfranchised middle class with ties to the oil industry, but from former Hugo Chávez supporters.

Some of the protesters are poor people who have simply tired of queuing up for toothpaste and toilet paper. But others are bona fide leftists themselves, arguing that the ongoing Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela has deteriorated into an old-fashioned kleptocracy.

Venezuelans fled to Spain, U.S.

Even the Communist Party of Venezuela —a seemingly natural ally of Maduro —has fractured in its response to the government’s crackdown on dissent.

Waves of Venezuelan dissidents arrived in Spain and the United States after Chávez began redistributing wealth and clamping down on private media in the early 2000s. These political refugees have given way to a far more numerous and diverse group: the “wave of desperation.”

Again, the common denominator for these dissidents isn’t so much ideology, but youth. They are university students of all political persuasions who are on the front lines of the street battles against government forces.

A young anti-government demonstrator holds a Venezuelan flag during clashes against Venezuelan Bolivarian National guards officers at a protest against Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, in August 2017.
(AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

State-run media in Cuba and Venezuela and mass media in North America have different explanations for the tumultuous times in the Americas, but they seem to agree on one thing: It’s a Cold War revival of Right versus Left.

In Alberta, conservative media draws false parallels between Rachel Notley’s pragmatic New Democratic administration and Maduro’s Socialist Party. In Venezuela, TeleSur often depicts the struggle as one between the working class pueblo and the right-wing oligarchy backed by Donald Trump’s administration. (Of course, Trump’s statement that the United States had a “military option” for the Venezuela crisis only played right into Maduro’s hand).

When the Cold War ended, it seemed like ideological orthodoxy might also give way to pragmatics and new political formations. Neoliberal philosophies took hold of traditional left-of-centre parties. Cuba opened up small-scale capitalism. Venezuela promised a “21st Century Socialism.”

The ConversationSo while it might look like we’re headed back into an age of right-wing vs. left-wing binaries, a new generation of activists across the hemisphere suggests otherwise. Those of us who remember the last Cold War would do well to think outside our orthodoxies as we process a new era of hemispheric tumult.

Russell Cobb, Associate Professor of Latin Amerincan Studies , University of Alberta

This article was originally published on The Conversation.

How eclipses were regarded as omens in the ancient world

File 20170807 25556 1lixvch

A solar eclipse observed over Grand Canyon National Park in May 2012.
Grand Canyon National Park

On Monday, August 21, people living in the continental United States will be able to see a total solar eclipse.

Humans have been alternatively amused, puzzled, bewildered and sometimes even terrified at the sight of this celestial phenomenon. A range of social and cultural reactions accompanies the observation of an eclipse. In ancient Mesopotamia (roughly modern Iraq), eclipses were in fact regarded as omens, as signs of things to come.

Solar and lunar eclipses

For an eclipse to take place, three celestial bodies must find themselves in a straight line within their elliptic orbits. This is called a syzygy, from the Greek word “súzugos,” meaning yoked or paired.

Solar lunar eclipse diagram.
Tomruen (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA

From our viewpoint on Earth, there are two kinds of eclipses: solar and lunar. In a solar eclipse, the moon passes in between the sun and Earth, which results in blocking our view of the sun. In a lunar eclipse, it is the moon that crosses through the shadow of the Earth. A solar eclipse can completely block our view of the sun, but it is usually a brief event and can be observed only in certain areas of the Earth’s surface; what can be viewed as a total eclipse in one’s hometown may just be a partial eclipse a few hundred miles away.

By contrast, a lunar eclipse can be viewed throughout an entire hemisphere of the Earth: the half of the surface of the planet that happens to be on the night side at the time.

Eclipses as omens

More than two thousand years ago, the Babylonians were able to calculate that there were 38 possible eclipses or syzygys within a period of 223 months: that is, about 18 years. This period of 223 months is called a Saros cycle by modern astronomers, and a sequence of eclipses separated by a Saros cycle constitutes a Saros series.

Although scientists now know that the number of lunar and solar eclipses is not exactly the same in every Saros series, one cannot underplay the achievement of Babylonian scholars in understanding this astronomical phenomenon. Their realization of this cycle eventually allowed them to predict the occurrence of an eclipse.

The level of astronomical knowledge achieved in ancient Babylonia (southern Mesopotamia) cannot be separated from the astrological tradition that regarded eclipses as omens: Astronomy and astrology were then two sides of the same coin.

Rituals to preempt royal fate

According to Babylonian scholars, eclipses could foretell the death of the king. The conditions for an omen to be considered as such were not simple. For instance, according to a famous astronomical work known by its initial words, “Enūma Anu Enlil” – “When (the gods) Anu and Enlil” – if Jupiter was visible during the eclipse, the king was safe. Lunar eclipses seem to have been of particular concern for the well-being and survival of the king.

In order to preempt the monarch’s fate, a mechanism was devised: the “substitute king ritual,” or “šar pūhi.” There are over 30 mentions of this ritual in various letters from Assyria (northern Mesopotamia), dating to the first millennium B.C. Earlier references to a similar ritual have also been found in texts in Hittite, the Indo-European language for which we have the earliest written records, dating to second-millennium Anatolia – modern-day Turkey.

Saving the king

In this ritual, a person would be chosen to replace the king. He would be dressed like the king and placed on the throne. To avoid confusion with a real coronation, all this would occur alongside the recitation of the negative omen triggered by the observation of the eclipse.

The real king would keep a low profile and avoid being seen. If no additional negative portents were observed, the substitute king was put to death, therefore fulfilling the prophetic reading of the celestial omen while saving the life of the real king. This ritual would take place when an eclipse was observed or even predicted, something that became possible to do in later periods.

The presence of this ritual among the corpus of Hittite texts in second-millennium Anatolia has led to the assumption that it must have existed already in Mesopotamia during the first half of the second millennium B.C.

A legend

Although omens predicting the death of the king are already known for this earlier
period, the truth is that the main basis for such an assumption is an interesting story preserved only in a much later, first-millennium composition known by modern scholars as the “Chronicle of Early Kings.”

According to this late chronicle, a king of the city of Isin (modern Išān Bahrīyāt, about 125 miles to the southeast of Baghdad), Erra-imitti, was replaced by a gardener called Enlil-bani as part of a substitute king ritual. Luckily for this gardener, the real king died while eating hot soup, so the gardener remained on the throne and became king for good.

The fact is that these two kings, Erra-imitti and Enlil-bani, did exist and reigned successively in Isin during the 19th century B.C. The story, however, as told in the late “Chronicle of Early Kings,” bears all the trademarks of a legend. The story was probably devised to explain a dynastic switch, in which the royal office passed from one family or lineage to another, instead of following the usual father-son line of succession.

Looking for meaning in the skies

A lunar eclipse.
Neil Saunders, CC BY-NC-ND

Mesopotamia was not unique in this regard. For instance, a chronicle of early China known as the “Bamboo Annals” (竹書紀年 Zhúshū Jìnián) refers to a total lunar eclipse that took place in 1059 B.C., during the reign of the last king of the Shang dynasty. This eclipse was regarded as a sign by a vassal king, Wen of the Zhou dynasty, to challenge his Shang overlord.

In the later account contained in the “Bamboo Annals,” an eclipse would have triggered the political and military events that marked the transition from the Shang to the Zhou dynasty in ancient China. As in the case of the Babylonian “Chronicle of Early Kings,” the “Bamboo Annals” are a history of earlier periods compiled at a later time. The “Bamboo Annals” were allegedly found in a tomb about A.D. 280, but they purport to date to the reign of the King Xiang of Wei, who died in 296 B.C.

The complexity of human events is rarely constrained and determined by one single factor. Nevertheless, whether in ancient Mesopotamia or in early China, eclipses and other omens provided contemporary justifications, or after-the-fact explanations, for an entangled set of variables that decided a specific course of history.

The ConversationEven if they mix astronomy and astrology, or history with legend, humans have been preoccupied with the inescapable anomaly embodied by an eclipse for as long as they have looked at the sky.

Gonzalo Rubio, Associate Professor of Classics & Ancient Mediterranean Studies, History, and Asian Studies, Pennsylvania State University

This article was originally published on The Conversation.

How ancient cultures explained eclipses

File 20170816 10024 1ucrul3

A 1765 painting of Helios, the personification of the sun in Greek mythology.
Wikimedia Commons

On August 21, a total solar eclipse will be visible across parts of the United States.

As the Earth and moon sweep through space in their annual journey around the sun, the three bodies align in such a way that the Earth passes into the shadow of the moon. Observers then witness a sun that is gradually covered and uncovered by the moon’s disk – a spectacular celestial event.

But until astronomers were able to explain this phenomenon, a solar eclipse could be a terrifying event. In many cultures throughout human history, the sun was seen as an entity of supreme importance, crucial to their very existence. It was regularly worshipped as a god – Amun-Ra to the Egyptians and Helios to the Greeks – or as a goddess, such as Amaterasu for the Japanese and Saule for many Baltic cultures.

One reason the sun served as a god or goddess in so many cultures was its awesome power: Looking directly at it would severely damages the eyes, a sign of the sun diety’s wrath.

So the idea that the sun deity could be temporarily extinguished in a total eclipse inspired a number of imaginative explanations. Most involve some sort of evil entity trying to devour the sun. Such myths undoubtedly arose from the fact that during the early stages of a solar eclipse, the sun appears to have a bite taken out of it.

The various creatures include the Vikings’ sky wolves Skoll and Hati, a Chinese dragon, a Vietnamese frog and assorted Roman demons. In many cultures, it was believed that such creatures could be driven off by creating as much loud noise as possible: yelling, ringing bells, and banging pots and pans.

Perhaps the most creative version of this strand of mythologies comes from certain branches of Hindu culture. In that version, the mortal Rahu is said to have attempted to attain immortality. The sun and moon told the god Visnu of Rahu’s transgression. As punishment, Visnu decapitated Rahu.

Ever since, Rahu has sought to exact vengeance on the sun and the moon by pursuing them across the sky to eat them. Once in a while – at the time of an eclipse – Rahu actually catches the sun or the moon. In the case of a solar eclipse, Rahu slowly devours the sun, and it gradually disappears into Rahu’s throat – only to reappear from his severed neck.

Rahu swallowing the moon.
Anandajoti Bhikkhu, CC BY

In other branches of Hindu culture, the “sun eater” took the more traditional form of a dragon. To fight this beast, certain Hindu sects in India immersed themselves up to the neck in water in an act of worship, believing that the adulation would aid the sun in fighting off the dragon.

Other cultures had equally ingenious explanations for – and defenses against – a total solar eclipse. Eskimos thought an eclipse meant that the sun and moon had become temporarily diseased. In response, they’d cover up everything of importance – themselves included – lest they be infected by the “diseased” rays of the eclipsed sun.

For the Ojibwe tribe of the Great Lakes, the onset of total eclipse represented an extinguished sun. To prevent permanent darkness, they proceeded to fire flaming arrows at the darkened sun in an attempt to rekindkle it.

Amidst the plethora of the myths and legends and interpretations of this strange event, there are seeds of understanding about their true nature.

For example, the famed total solar eclipse of May 28, 585 B.C., occurred in the middle of a battle between the Medes and the Lydians in what is now the northeast region of modern-day Turkey. The eclipse actually ended the conflict on the spot, with both sides interpreting the event as a sign of the displeasure from the gods. But based on the writings of the ancient Greek historian Heroditus, it’s thought that the great Greek philosopher-mathematician Thales of Miletus had, coincidentally, predicted its occurrence.

Chinese, Alexandrian and Babylonian astronomers were also said to be sophisticated enough to not only understand the true nature of solar eclipses, but also to roughly predict when the “dragon” would come to devour the sun. (As with much knowledge back then, however, astronomical and astrological findings were relayed only to the ruling elites, while myths and legends continued to percolate among the general population.)

Advances in modern astronomy have given us detailed explanations for solar eclipses, to the extent that their time and location can be predicted centuries into the future and reconstructed from centuries ago.

The ConversationOf course, mythologies surrounding total solar eclipses still exist today. Some conspiracy theorists say this year’s eclipse will cause the end of the world – perhaps a testament to the endurance of the superstitious side of the human psyche.

Roger Culver, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Colorado State University

This article was originally published on The Conversation.

100 years ago African-Americans marched down 5th Avenue to declare that black lives matter

File 20170722 28515 16wxxmn

Silent protest parade in New York against the East St. Louis riots, 1917.
Library of Congress

The only sounds were those of muffled drums, the shuffling of feet and the gentle sobs of some of the estimated 20,000 onlookers. The women and children wore all white. The men dressed in black.

On the afternoon of Saturday, July 28, 1917, nearly 10,000 African-Americans marched down Fifth Avenue, in silence, to protest racial violence and white supremacy in the United States.

New York City, and the nation, had never before witnessed such a remarkable scene.

The “Silent Protest Parade,” as it came to be known, was the first mass African-American demonstration of its kind and marked a watershed moment in the history of the civil rights movement. As I have written in my book “Torchbearers of Democracy,” African-Americans during the World War I era challenged racism both abroad and at home. In taking to the streets to dramatize the brutal treatment of black people, the participants of the “Silent Protest Parade” indicted the United States as an unjust nation.

This charge remains true today.

Several thousand people attended a Seattle rally to call attention to minority rights and police brutality in April 2017.
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

One hundred years later, as black people continue to insist that “Black Lives Matter,” the “Silent Protest Parade” offers a vivid reminder about the power of courageous leadership, grassroots mobilization, direct action and their collective necessity in the fight to end racial oppression in our current troubled times.

Racial violence and the East St. Louis Riot

One of the great accomplishments of the Black Lives Matter movement has been to demonstrate the continuum of racist violence against black people throughout American history and also the history of resistance against it. But as we continue to grapple with the hyper-visibility of black death, it is perhaps easy to forget just how truly horrific racial violence against black people was a century ago.

Prior to the “Silent Protest Parade,” mob violence and the lynching of African-Americans had grown even more gruesome. In Waco, a mob of 10,000 white Texans attended the May 15, 1916, lynching of a black farmer, Jesse Washington. One year later, on May 22, 1917, a black woodcutter, Ell Persons, died at the hands of over 5,000 vengeance-seeking whites in Memphis. Both men were burned and mutilated, their charred body parts distributed and displayed as souvenirs.

Even by these grisly standards, East St. Louis later that same summer was shocking. Simmering labor tensions between white and black workers exploded on the evening of July 2, 1917.

For 24 hours, white mobs indiscriminately stabbed, shot and lynched anyone with black skin. Men, women, children, the elderly, the disabled – no one was spared. Homes were torched and occupants shot down as they attempted to flee. White militia men stood idly by as the carnage unfolded. Some actively participated. The death toll likely ran as high as 200 people.

The city’s surviving 6,000 black residents became refugees.

Ida B. Wells.
Library of Congress

East St. Louis was an American pogrom. The fearless African-American anti-lynching activist Ida B. Wells traveled to the still smoldering city on July 4 and collected firsthand accounts of the aftermath. She described what she saw as an “awful orgy of human butchery.”

The devastation of East St. Louis was compounded by the fact that America was at war. On April 2, President Woodrow Wilson had thrown the United States into the maelstrom of World War I. He did so by asserting America’s singularly unique place on the global stage and his goal to make the world “safe for democracy.” In the eyes of black people, East St. Louis exposed the hypocrisy of Wilson’s vision and America itself.

The NAACP takes action

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People quickly responded to the massacre. Founded in 1909, the NAACP had yet to establish itself as a truly representative organization for African-Americans across the country. With the exception of W.E.B. Du Bois, one of the NAACP’s co-founders and editor of The Crisis magazine, the national leadership was all white. Branches were overwhelmingly located in the North, despite the majority of African-Americans residing below the Mason-Dixon line. As a result, the NAACP had largely failed to respond with a sense of urgency to the everyday horrors endured by the masses of black folk.

James Weldon Johnson.
Twentieth Century Negro Literature

James Weldon Johnson changed things. Lawyer, diplomat, novelist, poet and songwriter, Johnson was a true African-American renaissance man. In 1916, Johnson joined the NAACP as a field secretary and made an immediate impact. In addition to growing the organization’s southern membership, Johnson recognized the importance of expanding the influence of the NAACP’s existing branches beyond the black elite.

Johnson raised the idea of a silent protest march at an executive committee meeting of the NAACP Harlem branch shortly after the East St. Louis riot. Johnson also insisted that the protest include the city’s entire black community. Planning quickly got underway, spearheaded by Johnson and local black clergymen.

A historic day

By noon on July 28, several thousand African-Americans had begun to assemble at 59th Street. Crowds gathered along Fifth Avenue. Anxious New York City police officers lined the streets, aware of what was about to take place but, with clubs at the ready, prepared for trouble.

At approximately 1 p.m., the protest parade commenced. Four men carrying drums began to slowly, solemnly play. A group of black clergymen and NAACP officials made up the front line. W.E.B. Du Bois, who had recently returned from conducting an NAACP investigation in East St. Louis, and James Weldon Johnson marched side by side.

The parade was a stunning spectacle. At the front, women and children wearing all-white gowns symbolized the innocence of African-Americans in the face of the nation’s guilt. The men, bringing up the rear and dressed in dark suits, conveyed both a mournful dignity and stern determination to stand up for their rights as citizens.

They carried signs and banners shaming America for its treatment of black people. Some read, “Your hands are full of blood,” “Thou Shalt Not Kill,” “Mothers, do lynchers go to heaven?” Others highlighted the wartime context and the hollowness of America’s ideals: “We have fought for the liberty of white Americans in six wars; our reward was East St. Louis,” “Patriotism and loyalty presuppose protection and liberty,” “Make America safe for Democracy.”

Throughout the parade, the marchers remained silent. The New York Times described the protest as “one of the most quiet and orderly demonstrations ever witnessed.” The silence was finally broken with cheers when the parade concluded at Madison Square.

Legacy of the Silent Protest Parade

The “Silent Protest Parade” marked the beginning of a new epoch in the long black freedom struggle. While adhering to a certain politics of respectability, a strategy employed by African-Americans that focused on countering racist stereotypes through dignified appearance and behavior, the protest, within its context, constituted a radical claiming of the public sphere and a powerful affirmation of black humanity. It declared that a “New Negro” had arrived and launched a black public protest tradition that would be seen in the parades of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, the civil rights demonstrations of the 1960s and the Black Lives Matter marches of today.

The “Silent Protest Parade” reminds us that the fight against racist violence and the killing of black people remains just as relevant now as it did 100 years ago. Black death, whether at the hands of a Baton Rouge police officer or white supremacist in Charleston, is a specter that continues to haunt this nation. The expendability of black bodies is American tradition, and history speaks to the long endurance of this violent legacy.

But history also offers inspiration, purpose and vision.

Ida B. Wells, James Weldon Johnson and other freedom fighters of their generation should serve as models for activists today. That the “Silent Protest Parade” attracted black people from all walks of life and backgrounds attests to the need for organizations like the NAACP, following its recent national convention, to remember and embrace its origins. And, in building and sustaining the current movement, we can take lessons from past struggles and work strategically and creatively to apply them to the present.

Because, at their core, the demands of black people in 2017 remain the same as one of the signs raised to the sky on that July afternoon in 1917:

The Conversation“Give me a chance to live.”

Chad Williams, Associate Professor of African and Afro-American Studies, Brandeis University

This article was originally published on The Conversation.

Is Ryan Kelly's iconic photograph an American 'Guernica'?

Ryan Kelly’s iconic photograph of the moment that James Fields’ car plowed into a crowd of protestors in Charlottesville, Virginia. Ryan M. Kelly/AP

On August 12, Charlottesville Daily Progress photographer Ryan M. Kelly captured the exact moment that Nazi sympathizer James Alex Fields, Jr. drove his Dodge Challenger into a crowd of counterprotesters, injuring 19 and killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer. It’s probably the most enduring image to emerge from the weekend of “Unite the Right” rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia.

At first glance, Kelly’s photograph is nearly impossible to make sense of visually or politically. Cars are not supposed to drive into pedestrians; fellow citizens are not supposed to kill each other over political differences. And there’s so much in the frame of the image – so many figures and forms crowded together, most only partially visible – that you can’t take it in all at once.

Pablo Picasso’s 1937 iconic mural “Guernica” might teach us how to interpret this image more closely, and why it is important to do so. Like Kelly’s photograph, “Guernica” conveys a moment of terror through a jumble of forms and fragments that seem to make no sense.

In April 1937, a different sort of “Unite the Right” moment took place in fascist Europe during the destruction of Guernica. At the request of General Franco, the leader of nationalist insurgents in the Spanish Civil War, German and Italian warplanes bombarded the Basque town in northern Spain. Terror rained from the sky: Hundreds of civilians were killed, while military targets were left unscathed.

Days later, as May Day protesters filled the streets of Paris, Pablo Picasso began what would become an anti-war masterpiece.

Pablo Picasso, ‘Guernica’ (1937).
Reina Sofia

There are uncanny echoes of Picasso’s “Guernica” in Kelly’s photograph. Picasso used the Cubist techniques of fragmentation and collage to create a visual cry of anguish at the destruction wrought by men at the controls of war machines.

To make sense of the painting, you must do the work of reassembling what has been rendered apart. Yet you will never make sense of such destruction. You cannot merely glance at this massive painting or take it in all at once; you must stand and look and witness. There is nothing beautiful about it. It refuses to console. However, in the painting’s abstraction – its matte shades of gray, its distorted figures that stand in for the wounded and the dead – there is a kind of mercy toward its viewers and these victims.

If there is any mercy of abstraction in Kelly’s photograph, it is that of time. The image captures the moment in medias res – when the bodies of the men near its center still evoke the beauty of the human form in its wholeness.

Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily Progress

Yet we know the victims are not whole; that is why it hurts to look. The contorted positions of the man in red and white sneakers and the man somersaulting above him make sense only in the realm of sports photography. But this is not a game.

Elsewhere the photograph captures only fragments: arms and hands, legs and feet, heads and faces. Empty shoes on the ground. Sunglasses. A cellphone in midair.

You will never make sense of this image because it makes no sense. (Or, rather, it makes as much sense as racism itself.) Yet to look away risks turning away from the truths it tells. A heavy aspect of our national tragedy is that we seem to lack a president – such as Abraham Lincoln – whose heart might break to see such carnage.

As he kept reworking “Guernica,” Picasso painted over a raised fist he had initially drawn near the center of the canvas. Then – as now – the raised fist is a symbol of solidarity against fascism. It makes an eerie reappearance on two posters in the top third of Kelly’s photograph.

“Guernica” includes small lines resembling newsprint. The Charlottesville photojournalist’s image is also crowded with text; some of it implicates the driver, while other words are a call to action.

Clear as day, there’s the incriminating license plate. No one can deny that this car drove into this crowd, as the colluding European fascists did when they claimed that Guernica had been bombed by Spanish Republican forces.

Then there’s the collage of protest signs and street signs that the neo-Nazi at the wheel didn’t heed: Peace/Black Lives Matter. Solidarity. STOP. LOVE. BLACK LIVES. STOP.

The ConversationKelly’s photograph redirects these injunctions to the viewer, who’s left to wonder whether this is what our democracy – or the state of our union – looks like.

Jennifer Wenzel, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature and Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies, Columbia University

This article was originally published on The Conversation.

South African social media is giving consumers power to discipline corporations

File 20170807 16724 1ujy659

More than 20 years after democracy it seems incredible that a leading South African insurance company, Outsurance would put out a Father’s Day advertisement which featured mostly white dads. If their marketing team didn’t see the problem, citizens on social media certainly did and helped the company to see the error of its ways – and fast.

Within hours of screening the advertisement, a twitter storm had broken out and the commercial was retracted. Outsurance issued an apology for any offence caused. It was a quick and decisive response – which is generally the right way to respond in a crisis – spoiled only by the fact that the company subsequently laid the blame at the door of a “junior lady” on the social media team.

The Outsurance experience underlines the growing importance of social media in branding. Branding scholars Chiranjeev Kohli and Anuj Kapoor point out that:

This rapidly evolving landscape has left managers at a loss, and what they are experiencing is likely the beginning of a tectonic shift in the way brands are managed.

Outsurance isn’t the only firm to have been caught in a social media storm. Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick was forced to step down after a prolonged online assault leading to a “shareholder revolt”. London based public relations firm, Bell Pottinger, had to lock its twitter handle recently because it had been twitter bombed by South Africans outraged at the firm’s service to the controversial Gupta family.

Another South African business, the family restaurant franchise Spur, suffered considerable brand damage after a video showing an altercation between a (white) man and a (black) woman at a Johannesburg outlet went viral, causing a racially charged firestorm. Spur was castigated from different directions for mishandling the matter.

These cases show how social media gives consumers the ability to influence business behaviour. But, we argue, this power should be channelled in a constructive way to affect lasting change.

A new kind of activism

There are many examples of deliberate online anti-brand behaviours targeting well-known brands such as American Express, Coca Cola, and Wal-Mart. Widely respected New York Times technology columnist Farhad Manjoo recently noted, that online campaigns against brands have become a powerful force in business by handing power to consumers. It has also given birth to a new kind of political activism:

Posting a hashtag and threatening to back it up by withholding dollars can bring about a much quicker, more visible change in the world than, say, calling your representative.

This is of course not good news to most corporations, businesses and politicians. Those operating in the public domain know the importance of protecting their reputation and fear the power of social media. Many organisations pay research companies for daily feedback on how their brand is perceived. In addition to newspaper clippings and magazine articles, they also have to sift through thousands of tweets and emails.

Not all negative comments deserve to be dealt with publicly. Some outrage may be the result of a vindictive individual or interest groups with less honourable intentions. Responding to comments such as these may only fan the fire, doing more harm than good.

But the power of social media is such that even a falsehood can cause immense damage, ruining businesses and individuals. Social media can awaken the mob mentality in people. All that’s required is for people to become angry – and have access to a medium where they can be relatively anonymous and vent their fury.

Social media brings out the best and the worst in people. On the one hand, it gives the power to do untold damage. On the other it can be used to do tremendous good.

Disciplining business

Take the case of American airline United Airlines. The video of how security dragged Dr David Dao off a flight in April 2017 after he refused to leave his seat when he was selected to be bumped off due to overbooking went viral on the Internet.

Millions of people saw Dr Dao being dragged, bleeding and injured, off the plane. There was an enormous backlash from consumers slamming the airline – and other airlines – for the practice of overbooking.

The consequences of all the anger led to the airline revising its policy and operations and spilled over into wider investigations into general procedures at airlines. This resulted in new legislation being drafted in the US, which could prevent airlines from forcibly removing passengers seated on an overbooked flight and providing compensation for those not allowed to board.

A double-edged sword

Social media is here to stay – if anything its use is set to become more sophisticated. According to Pew Internet Research, YouTube reaches more 18- to 34-year-olds than any cable network in the US, 76% of Facebook users visited the site daily last year with over 1.6 billion daily visitors, and 51% of Instagram users engage with the platform daily. These trends are spreading across the globe.

Users may also become more discerning about which sites they visit and how often. For companies, this means a need to remain vigilant and being aware of how to react appropriately. They undoubtedly stand to profit as well – through clever marketing campaigns that make use of social media platforms.

The ConversationBut the biggest winners could be consumers – should they learn to properly use the power of social media to organise into interest groups, define objectives and agree on courses of action – thereby exerting pressure on companies to see the kind of change in corporations that they would like to see in society as well.

Mlenga Jere, Associate Professor of Marketing, University of Cape Town and Raymond van Niekerk, Adjunct Professor, with expertise in Branding, Marketing, Business Strategy, Corporate Citizenship and Social Responsibility. Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town

This article was originally published on The Conversation.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Race Matters: A Story About White Privilege

How can we better understand white privilege and use this knowledge to make the world better for everyone?
To this day, so many conversations about [white] privilege are rendered futile because of an inability to accept that our society systematically uplifts some individuals while marginalizing others.
Too often, there is a stubborn refusal to accept the many subtle ways we are socialized differently depending on our race.
This comic is a perfect illustration of these subtleties and a great starting point for conversation.
We need to continue moving forward, but first, we have to get better at recognizing all of the ways that society holds some of us back.


I am alarmed and saddened by the report today of poor care received by a woman in labour at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital that allegedly led to the death of her baby daughter.

Rudzani Molaudzi (22) says that she was "forced" to deliver her baby by herself last week at the hospital after being ignored for hours by staff while she was in labour.
When her baby was born, a doctor pronounced that she was dead without examining her. The baby then started crying and was rushed to ICU, but died nine hours later.
This latest incident comes after the disclosure by Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa in reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature that 1338 infants died at birth at this hospital between 2014 and 2016.
The department claims that there is no negligent care at the neonatal and maternity units, but I really doubt this denial.
There are 15 vacancies at these units that need to be filled urgently and answers are needed about the many reports of poor care.
I have requested the Gauteng Health Department for an oversight visit to the hospital next week to find out why so many babies are dying or become brain-damaged because of negligence.
We need to know what the problems are at this hospital and what is being done to fix them.
Statement by Jack Bloom MPL
DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC

 That's not all...............................
Huge bed shortage and poor facilities for psychiatric patients in Gauteng
by Jack Bloom MPL - DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC

Treatment of psychiatric patients in Gauteng is hugely compromised by a shortage of about 2700 beds and unsuitable facilities in bad repair.
This is my conclusion following a 22 page comprehensive written reply by Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.
According to norms for severe psychiatric conditions, there should be 28 acute psychiatric beds/100 000 people. There should therefore be 3780 such beds for 13.5 million people in Gauteng, but there are only 1058 beds.
A major problem is that many patients admitted to hospitals for the required 72 hour treatment and observation period are not placed in dedicated psychiatric wards.
Gauteng public hospitals admitted 18387 psychiatric patients in 2016, but 4425 of these (24%) were placed in ordinary wards with other patients.
The worst affected hospital is South Rand Hospital which had 2586 psychiatric patients last year, but 972 of them were placed in ordinary wards because the two psychiatric wards were full. This led to three psychiatric patients dying because they jumped from windows, and one patient raped another because of inadequate security.
The following hospitals have no dedicated psychiatric wards at all but still accept large numbers of psychiatric patients:
Pholosong - admitted 763 psychiatric patients in 2016
Far East Rand - admitted 711 psychiatric patients in 2016
Heidelberg - admitted 285 psychiatric patients in a general medical ward in 2016
Bheki Mlangeni - admitted 95 psychiatric patients in 2016
Other hospitals do have psychiatric wards but these are inadequate so many psychiatric patients are placed in other wards as per the following figures for 2016:
Thelle Mogoerane - admitted 1504 psychiatric patients, 1113 of whom were placed in general wards
Sebokeng - admitted 673 psychiatric patients, but 192 were placed in general wards
Tambo Memorial - admitted 507 psychiatric patients, but placed 214 in general wards
Jubilee - admitted 495 psychiatric patients, and placed 49 in general wards
Leratong - admitted 965 psychiatric patients, and only had to place 24 in other wards
Placement of psychiatric patients in general wards is not ideal as there should be special security measures both for their safety and the safety of others. A number of suicides, injuries and sexual assaults have already been reported at various hospitals for this reason.
Many of the psychiatric wards are in a poor state and need urgent repair.
The psychiatric ward at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital was meant to be upgraded ten years ago, but has been delayed by incompetent contractors who could not finish the job. The department says there are "plumbing challenges" at this ward - earlier this year patients could not take a bath or shower in the ward because of leaks into other wards. The latest projection is that ward renovations will be completed in May next year, which remains to be seen.
New psychiatric wards at Helen Joseph Hospital have also been delayed for many years by incompetent contractors. Ramokgopa says that the construction work has been suspended and work will commence after a contractor has been reappointed.
Psychiatric Ward 2 at this hospital has basic facilities but doors don't close properly in the bathrooms, and there are no toilet seats. There is no facility to properly house contained patients - they are now put into lockable rooms with a moveable bed instead of an immovable/concrete bed.
Psychiatric Ward 3 at the hospital is " an incomplete shell. No vinyl on the floor, no equipment, no beds or linen."
The only psychiatric wards deemed to be in reasonable condition are at the Steve Biko, Chris Hani Baragwanath, Bertha Gxowa and Kalafong hospitals.
Problems at other hospitals include the following:
Thelle Moegerane (New Natalspruit) Hospital) - the bed capacity of the psychiatric unit is smaller than the previous Natalspruit Hospital and there is no CCTV in the ward.
Sebokeng Hospital - the current ward is not compliant to the provisions of the Mental Health Act.
Pholosong Hospital - the cubicles where the psychiatric oatients are admitted are not conducive for such patients. There is no seclusion facility for violent patients.
George Mukhari Hospital - the sewage system needs revamp. The seclusion rooms need refurbishment. Need an appropriate recreation room.
Tembisa Hospital - no space for Occupational Therapy Services
There are infrastructure problems at all the four specialized mental hospitals, with major renovations needed at the Weskoppies and Tara hospitals.
Cullinan Hospital
Only 8 out of 14 wards are functional at the Cullinan Hospital which has 285 beds for mentally retarded patients.
Sterkfontein Hospital
This hospital has 813 beds in total. Most of the wards are in acceptable standards but minor infrastructure defects arise intermittently.
Ward 11 is habitable but requires significant infrastructural renovations.
Ward 5 was found unsuitable for use and is currently closed.
Weskoppies Hospital
Ramokgopa's reply gives four-and-a-half pages of detail on repair, maintenance and required upgrading at this hospital which has deteriorated alarmingly.
Of greatest concern is that Wards 8, 9, 12 and 13 were "Urgently renovated to accommodate Life Esidimeni patients. Presently not in good condition ... the sewer line, water pipes and locking systems not addressed. Plumbing a great challenge."
It is horrific that Esidimeni patients rescued from unsuitable NGOs are now in substandard wards at Weskoppies.
The High Risk Forensic Ward and the Observation Unit are not in good condition and need to be renovated.
Eight wards have been evacuated and are closed because they are in poor condition.
Other buildings at the hospital are also assessed to be needing repairs.
Unreliable electricity for shock therapy -
the building used for Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) does not have an uninterrupted power supply, and power failures have interrupted ECT, which is disastrous. An uninterrupted power supply is needed urgently, but is not budgeted for in this financial year.
A new 300 bed hospital is in the planning phase, with building meant to commence in 2018, but I doubt that this will happen given the past poor record in building hospitals.
Tara Hospital
There are 8 functioning wards with 137 beds but a myriad of faults and structural issues are listed.
Problems include the following:
Ward 1/2 - physical structure not conducive to the treatment of patients, space too small on the first floor. Adolescent patients may be able to jump through the windows. Courtyard and garden not usable as patients can abscond, so patients are kept indoors most of the time.
Ward 4/5 - there is no examination room, same room is used as a computer room. Cracked ceiling causes leakage during rainy season and all the rooms need painting.
Ward 6 - there are no rooms to conduct group sessions. No space to fit a bed for physical examination in the treatment room. No burglar bars in the kitchen and the TV room.
Ward 7 - leaking pipes, blocked toilets. Courtyard needs proper fencing. Security gate and CCTV cameras not working, high risk of patients absconding.
Ward 8 - roof and toilets leaking. The ceiling in the corridor leading to the courtyard is about to collapse.
Ward 9 has a variety of structural issues and becomes extremely cold in winter.
Psychiatric patients are very vulnerable, but present treatment facilities are grossly inadequate.
I am greatly concerned by the shortage of acute psychiatric beds and the poor state of many psychiatric wards in Gauteng.
The Esidimeni tragedy has focused attention on the plight of mental health patients but much more work is needed to provide consistent high-quality care for mental health problems.

Think that is bad, Chris Mapasa posted some photos about another hospital ........... 

'Black South Africans Treated Like Pigs By The ANC-Department of Health'
Kalafong hospital:
What a disgrace to our people in South Africa and an embarrassment to the civilised world !
Share, share, and share again, so that the ANC elite in government can be shamed as they steal millions, roll in affluence, eat their caviar & fly their jets.
Provincial hospitals are chronically understaffed and underbudget - driven by choice from the top - clearly our government is discriminating against the weak & sick, and is recklessly abusing our citizens, and mismanaging our country.
Chris Mapasa