Qaanitah Hunter | We are traumatised as a nation and there is no silver lining | News24

Covid-19 has added to our burdens as we deal with gender-based violence, brutal crime and corruption writes Qaanitah Hunter. 


There is a collective trauma we face living in South Africa. Arguably, some of us are more traumatised than others. 

Whether it is the gross inequality we see daily, gruesome gender-based violence, brutal crime or politicians plundering the state with no consequences.

If you add to that the trauma of apartheid, we pretty much have post-traumatic stress disorder as a nation.

The Covid-19 pandemic has made this trauma so much harder to cope with and it is getting harder and harder to see the silver lining. 

I woke up on Sunday morning to news that a family friend was assaulted at his farm in KwaZulu-Natal, his pregnant wife murdered as his kids watched.

It is as inhumane as it gets.

Hours before the incident, this family had excited conversations about their unborn child, had video calls with loved ones and made plans for family braais after the Covid-19 lockdown.

Three masked men gained entry to their home on a farm, beat up the husband, attacked the children and ultimately slit the throat of the wife, Zakiyya.

Just like that, a whole family torn apart and traumatised for life.

Trauma 

Added to the trauma of making sense of this senseless killing, are family members and friends who couldn’t attend the funeral because of the pandemic.

This incident evoked the traumas of those upset about farm murders (whether or not they are right that these are hate crimes), it tore open wounds of those who’ve experienced gender-based violence; it brought up a sense of loss for those who could not bury loved ones due to Covid-19 and it stirred anger in so many. 

There’s just so much of trauma, for this family and for our country. 

The same weekend, I felt immense sadness for ANC treasurer general Paul Mashatile who lost his wife just over a week after burying his mother.

And he couldn’t be consoled or grieve the way he ought to because he had to go into quarantine following exposure to Covid-19.

Then there is the daily gut-wrenching stories of people who has lost loved ones due to Covid-19.

Barry and Heidi Volkwijn who died hours apart on one day from Covid-19, often plays on my mind.

There are so many stories like that.

We had to bury a gran and her only son in a space of three days and were not able to be present.

Indignity 

My heart sinks at the thought of a colleague who had to attend her father’s funeral through a virtual platform due to exposure of Covid-19.

Then there’s the trauma of indignity.

Those who are desperately in need of a ventilator or hospital bed, having to sleep on the cold floor because of failing public healthcare.

There are people in the Eastern Cape who who are surrounded by filth and faeces in hospitals.

On the other hand, there are the doctors, expected to go to the frontline with insufficient personal protective equipment, insufficient resources and little to no support.

They have to deal with the daily horror of telling more and more families that their loved ones have died.

There is too much happening for medical frontline staff to deal with the anxiety and stress of their jobs.

At the same time, I think of the journalists who rush through a story about a pregnant woman murdered in front of her children because a two-year-old was raped elsewhere.

Economic hardship 

Then there are those who may have been spared the loss of losing a loved one, or have been spared being haunted by the effects of Covid-19, but may be inflicted with the economic hardship brought by this pandemic.

Some have had their salaries cut, colleagues are preparing for the inevitable retrenchments and others have lost their jobs overnight. 

One can’t forget the face of Bulelani Qolani who was beat up naked as his home in Khayelitsha was demolished.

Like Qolani, South Africans just can’t seem to catch a break.

Politicians are warning that we will be poorer, yet the plundering of state resources continue.

Millions are plundered through UIF fraud while families wait in earnest for a paltry sum to be paid. 

Covid-19 has battered an already bruised nation. It is breaking whatever is left of our society.

The damage is going to last longer than we expect. It will live for generations to come.

Just as I had no words or answers for my family friends who went through that ghastly ordeal, I have no words for our collective trauma.

We hope. We pray. We remain optimistic.

Those in the driving seat have let us down before. Am I a fool for still being optimistic at a better tomorrow?

 – Qaanitah Hunter is News24’s political editor 


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