Letters to the editor: November 29 to December 5 2013

The poor will suffer most from the tolling of highways because of race-based spacial planning. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

The poor will suffer most from the tolling of highways because of race-based spacial planning. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

E-tolls serve to entrench apartheid

E-tolling puts citizens in a moral predicament. Should they abide by a law that victimises the victims of the apartheid regime and become accomplices in this injustice, or should they stand up for "justice" and defy the law?

It seems the e-toll planners failed to take apartheid spatial planning into consideration. Black people are getting punished twice.
First they got punished by the apartheid regime, which dumped them far away from city centres so that to get to work they were forced to travel long distances.

Now black people are going to be punished again, this time by the ANC government. E-tolls will tax poor black people more heavily because of the greater distance they will have to travel to work from outlying townships. In comparison, the previously privileged whites who were allowed to live within city limits by the apartheid regime will travel shorter distances and will pay less even though the new census shows they earn six times more than blacks.

Does this not go against the ANC's pledge to reduce poverty? In fact, e-tolls will increase poverty levels. That being the case, is e-tolling not discriminatory as it inflicts a terrible injustice on poor black people, who were forcibly dumped far away from city centres by the apartheid regime?

Would people who refuse to pay e-tolls not be upholding the Constitution, which does not require citizens to abide by immoral and unjust laws? In this case, a law that disproportionately taxes the poor more than it does the rich.

Also, if the ANC ignores apartheid spatial planning in implementing e-tolls, would it not be perpetuating [Hendrik] Verwoerd's plan to keep black people so preoccupied with their travelling that they would have little time left to improve their lives? 

Would it also not be a miscarriage of justice if a judge was to convict a conscientious citizen who participated in a defiance campaign by refusing to obey an immoral and unjust law that taxes the poor, who were forcibly removed out of the city?

Finally, would a law that unfairly discriminates against a poor segment of citizens by penalising them with higher costs not be in violation of the Constitution and therefore open to a Constitutional Court challenge? – Ahmed Motiar, director, Movement for Universal Justice, Valhalla


Dr Death's touch of life

Three years of crippling medical bills, a spate of top-notch specialists, uninformative tests, scans and not much sympathy to match … I shrank from a super-healthy, strong woman to a barely visible, pitiful gazelle. Despite my eight meals a day I was not absorbing nutrients. My then-undiagnosed coeliac disease caused my eyes to swell and my facial skin to peel in an unsightly manner – and I dropped from a size 12 to a size six.

I realised it was time to get my will and affairs in order and I withdrew socially, pretending to my clients to be all right by day but collapsing every evening – a horrid nightmare of a lifestyle, resulting in severe depression and thoughts of suicide.

A chance conversation with a friend of long standing revealed how Dr Wouter Basson had treated his aged, ailing parents back to super-health, to the extent that his mother was travelling abroad and his father was en route to the Americas for a shopping spree.

I was intrigued by Basson's medical history, including his triple specialisation feat and his brilliant, albeit unconventional, approach to matters. I had lost my health and was desperate enough to try anything. Besides, I liked the sound of how much he really cared.

I made the call at 8am the next morning and was allocated the first slot available. Impressive. I cried my sad story to him and was rather surprised by his ability to listen – really listen.

He put me at ease, promised to get to the bottom of it all, examined my eyes, twiddled my feet, ticked off the next steps of my consultation and sent me for an unusual number of blood tests.

Pure nerves and exhaustion caused me to giggle uncontrollably for a brief moment, to which he remarked dryly, in his commanding General Jan Smuts sort of voice: "Why are you laughing? You should be afraid of me."

Needless to say, this made him seem even less dangerous and I (probably like most of his patients) took to him even more.

After the private session with Dr B (or D, if you wish), his lovely therapist-like nursing sister and a young intern, I was sent off to an ophthalmologist and thereafter a team of specialist consultants for further thorough medical checks. Each was kinder and more professional than the last.

At the end of the almost five-hour consultation, I was given a synopsis of my condition as well as treatment, routine instructions, a strong dose of whatever it was he found lacking, and a firm, encouraging handshake from the man himself. That was three and a half months ago.

I've picked up close to 20kg. My health and sense of humour are on their way back. I saved my business in the nick of time because of the improvement in my condition.

People cannot believe the difference in my appearance and mental state. His diagnosis was simple, accurate and he got his nursing sister to ring me after three months to check up on me.

I'm one of many. By the sound of things, most of his patients don't go back to him – they recover and move on.

I hope they will support his unconventional brilliance by coming forward with additional testimonials like mine. – Louise Alexandra

? In response to "Dr Death close to patients' hearts" (November 22), I would like to share my own experience. Some years ago I had a problem after an anaesthetic and was taken to the cardiac unit of a hospital for observation.

Two days later I realised that the duty doctor standing at the end of my bed was Wouter Basson.

I was active in the Black Sash in the struggle days, and the only time I had previously felt that I was in the presence of an evil person was during an interview with the late [National Party Cabinet minister] Chris Heunis. But I had that same feeling when I saw Basson.

He picked up my medical notes but I said: "I don't think so. I'll have another doctor, please," and, with a smirk, he turned on his heel and left.

My friends tell me that this encounter clearly jolted my heart back to proper function. – Name withheld

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