False Idols and Pretenses

Like many other countries in the world South Africa is very divided over politics. The party which is in power on a National level is the ANC and they cannot even seem to reach a singular point of view among themselves. They have ruled since 1994 when Mandela was elected as our president. I mentioned in my last blog that ex President Zuma was arrested for contempt of court. This triggered protests, looting and riots. These protests which were allegedly in support of Zuma then morphed into protests about lockdown, about the alcohol ban and then descended into pure criminality with looting and arson and all manner of criminal activity.

Much like the delusional right wing who bought into Trump’s BS and led to an insurrection, some of the Zuma supporters have followed the directive of a faction of people who instigated this chaos.

Thousands of people have stolen food, electrical appliances, alcohol and clothing from retail centres, vehicles have been burned, businesses vandalised and debris left strewn across roads.

Last Sunday night our president, a.k.a. ‘Uncle Cyril’, addressed the nation and condemned the acts of violence. However this did not have any impact on those who were protesting and looting. If anything it escalated.

Approximately 1,700 people have been arrested and face charges including malicious damage to property, public violence and business burglary. As of Monday 45 people were dead and by Wednesday it had climbed to 72 and today I read that 212 people died in the insurrection. Ten of these people were crushed to death in a stampede during mass looting at Ndofaya shopping centre in Gauteng. Police have opened dockets for 131 cases of murder so far.

Over 118 incidents of public violence, arson, looting and other unrest have been recorded over the past week. 161 malls and shopping centres have been looted; 11 warehouses; 8 factories; 161 liquor outlets.

There were at least 37 trucks torched. It is estimated that billions of Rands of damage has been caused.

eThekwini Mayor, Mxolisi Kaunda revealed how the riots had badly impacted the province.

– 1-billion worth loss of stock has been affected;

– R15 billion of damage to property and equipment;

– 1 029 thousand jobs at risk;

– 5 000 informal traders affected;

– 40 000 formal businesses impacted, including small businesses and large portion of those who may never recover.

Kaunda said the total loss of Gross Domestic Products (GDP) in the region is said to be over R20 billion affecting production.

More than half of South Africa’s 60 million people are living in poverty, with an unemployment rate of 32%, according to official statistics and some people have described the riots as a symptom of poverty and inequality, however a far more sinister motive has emerged. It is alleged that former senior members of the State Security Agency, who are aligned to Zuma, are using loyal intelligence networks to instigate the unrest.

The controversial former head of the State Security Agency’s rogue special operations unit, Thulani Dlomo, has been identified as a prime suspect being investigated for fomenting violent unrest in KwaZulu-Natal. Zuma’s daughter Duduzile Zuma-Sambudla is also allegedly being invested as well as 12 other people who have not been named.

On Monday the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) were deployed and 25,000 soldiers were sent to provide support to the Police who were vastly outnumbered but the rioting and looting continued unabated. There were rumours that a state of emergency had been declared but Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said the president will only declare a state of emergency when ‘the situation arises’.

Ramaphosa said that although calls to establish a State of Emergency were “understandable” under the circumstances, he was of the view that this “drastic limitation of basic rights” should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.

This protest has stopped the vaccination roll outs in the areas affected and may impact the availability of vaccines being distributed to other provinces as no transport trucks were willing to go on the road. It will certainly impact the already dire levels of unemployment, how can a business which is decimated employ anyone? The short term availability of a new TV seemed to be making people blind to the long term consequences of their actions. People who looted on Monday were turning up in the shops on Thursday complaining that there is no food. Do they think the food is brought in nightly by fairies??

Unfortunately it is not only the looters who are suffering with food shortages. This is a queue for food on Tuesday. Many have said that they queued for hours only to have the shop run out of the meager supplies before they got to the front.

We then saw that some of the stolen items had been recovered.

Last night President Ramaphosa acknowledged that the government were completely unprepared for this protest. “It is clear now that the events of the last week were nothing but a deliberate, well planned and coordinated attack on our democracy,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said. The instigators of the unrest had intended to “cripple the economy”, “severely weaken or even dislodge the democratic state”, and “provoke a popular insurrection”. He said that conditions of poverty and unemployment had been exploited, and the poor and vulnerable manipulated.

Last Monday the president also announced that the alcohol ban will remain in place for another 2 weeks. He said that for the last two weeks the country had consistently recorded an average of 20,000 new cases a day, and more than 4,200 South Africans had lost their lives. Norm and I should have been going away for our anniversary this past weekend, but we cancelled when the 3rd wave hit as we anticipated that another clampdown would be implemented and I am glad we did cancel. If we waited then we may have lost our deposit. We could have gone away but we would not have been able to go to the wonderful restaurants we had booked so it all worked out as we expected.

The weather has remained ridiculously cold but the incessant rain finally cleared last weekend and I managed to get my new plants from Rusty Rose Nursery potted. I planted several of them in the new pots I had ordered from Takealot.

And the succulent that I bought weeks ago at Stodels was replanted in another new pot after the first pot I used had ended up breaking.

I love the bright colours of this succulent which I put into the pot that arrived chipped and cracked from Takealot, hopefully it stays intact. As they credited me for it there is no loss if it does not. It reminds me of alligator skin.

I used the last of the painted coffee tins that Lily had upcycled for me. I also put out my funny little kitsch gnomes from Rusty Rose Nurseries in my succulent garden with them.

I did not have enough new pots for all of my plants so I had to get creative. I put all of the flowering cacti into an old kitchen tin and topped it with dried apricot pips. This one went onto the porch so as to avoid receiving too much water from the incessant rain.

I added some of the other new plants into existing pots in my collection on the front porch. I planted some of the trailing banana succulents into the new birdcage I ordered. The porch is getting a bit crowded again.

Some of the pots in my succulent garden were so full of water the plants were drowning. Norm drilled holes in the metal ones and we dumped out the water from the others. We are having so much rain that the earth is not having time to dry out.

The rain started up again on Monday. Hard, driving rain that rattles the windows. The temperatures have dropped again and it is incredibly cold. I build a fire as soon as I finish work but it takes hours for the house to warm up. Usually just in time to go to bed! People who have heating just cannot imagine what it is like living without it.

The building work has continued. At the end of the day on Monday the quartz counter top and sinks had been installed on my bathroom vanity. The floor was down in one of the bedrooms and started on the 2nd bedroom.

On Tuesday, Nic the joiner (of Nic Nails) came to finish off the bathroom vanity. I had just sent him some images of the sort of thing I had in mind and Mark the builder sent him measurements of the space and the sinks and Nic designed and built it. He finished off the last coat of paint on site by hand after he put it all together. It looks even better than I imagined and just finishes off the bathroom so beautifully.

The builders finished both of the floors in the bedrooms on Tuesday as well as the painting and even varnished the window frames which were looking very tired. (Apologies for the messy bed and raised toilet seat.)

Our en-suite is fully operational with just a few tweaks in painting to get it totally done. It is so nice to be able to get ready in just one bathroom, I was showering in the en-suite then toddling down the hall to brush my teeth.

At the end of Friday the builders had demolished the family bathroom and made progress on marking out the tiles and placements of the pipes and other bits I cannot remember the names of. I am impressed at how thorough Mark, our builder, is with measuring it all out so that the tiles are centred and the plumbing is aligned. We discovered that our new bath has a wobbly leg so Mark has sourced a new one which should come next week.

I ordered new curtains for the landing and the bedrooms and we have to get new curtain rails for them. We will probably just use the same type we used in our bedroom for continuity of the style.

I also ordered new towel rails for the bathrooms. Several for hand towels and some for bath towels in the same style.

I treated myself to a new cupboard which I have been coveting for ages but it was out of stock until recently. It is for downstairs and I have so much stuff to purchase for upstairs it was a bit self-indulgent but YOLO and all that.

Now for my weekly stats on COVID for my 3 ‘home’ countries. For the count of total cases per country, SA has moved up again and is now ranked 17th with 2,269,179 cases. The UK is still 7th with 5,332,371 and the USA is still 1st with 34,929,856.

For the sad statistics on total deaths from COVID and related illnesses, SA is still 17th with 66,385 deaths, the UK is 7th with 128,642 deaths, and the USA is still 1st with 624,606 lives lost.

On the more leveled comparison of deaths per 1 million of the population, SA is now up another place to 47th with 1,105 deaths per million, the USA is still 21st with 1,876 and the UK is still 20th with 1,885.

In SA 5,046,267 vaccinations have now been administered. In the UK 46,159,145 people have now received their first dose and 35,543,321 have received their second. In the USA 185,424,899 people have had their first dose and 160,686,378 people are now fully vaccinated.

The number of people who are getting the vaccine is steadily increasing but some areas of the US where the numbers of people vaccinated is very low are being hit very hard by the virus. I saw stats which said that of those who are dying from the virus, 99% were either not vaccinated or had not completed the course of vaccines. Government data from May shows that “breakthrough” infections in fully vaccinated people accounted for fewer than 1,200 of more than 107,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations. That’s about 1.1%. Only about 150 of the more than 18,000 COVID-19 deaths in May were in fully vaccinated people. That translates to about 0.8%, or five deaths per day on average.

A group of 12 have been identified as the main sources for distribution of anti-vax information. “The ‘Disinformation Dozen’ produce 65% of the shares of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms,” said Imran Ahmed, chief executive officer of the Center for Countering Digital Hate. These figures are well-known to both researchers and the social networks. They include anti-vaccine activists, alternative health entrepreneurs and physicians. Some of them run multiple accounts across the different platforms. They often promote “natural health.” Some even sell supplements and books so there are self serving reasons to promote their nonsense. HERE is the link to the report.

This week one of my oldest friends’ family lost a child to a COVID induced stroke. A 5 year old child. Obviously his family are devastated. If you do not get the vaccine for yourself, then do it for your loved ones. This is so heartbreaking.

Now to move on to something a bit more uplifting.

For my musical treat I give you ‘Rose Pink Cadillac’ by ‘Dope Lemon‘.

Many of you will be familiar with the voice of Angus Stone who is one half of the musical sibling duo Angus & Julia Stone. Angus currently records under the name of Dope Lemon.

Another song I discovered this week is by Wild Rivers ‘Thinking About Love’. I love their sound and I hope you enjoy them too.

Today is Norman’s birthday. We lay in bed drinking coffee til noon and are going out now for a burger, sitting outside in the cold air, we will wrap up warm. I hope you all have a good weekend.

Until next time, stay safe and check on your friends, especially those who may be isolating alone.

Kisses from the Kitten xoxoxoxo

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