Letters to the editor: February 8 to 14

Verlorenvlei, a Ramsar site, is host to many bird species such as the rare great white pelican. (Jon Minster/Gallo Images/GO!)

Verlorenvlei, a Ramsar site, is host to many bird species such as the rare great white pelican. (Jon Minster/Gallo Images/GO!)

Overuse dries vlei; together we can fix it

With World Wetlands Day on February 2 in mind, I was recently taken to visit Verlorenvlei, near the West Coast, to see for myself the unfolding tragedy that is taking place in this Ramsar site.

Ramsar is the “intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources”, and South Africa is a signatory. Despite this commitment, extensive new farming has been established in the area, some of it during the worst drought in living memory. It’s no longer only potatoes but now largely vines, vegetables and citrus, all requiring vast quantities of water.

Swaths of land are now under irrigation with sprinklers spraying huge amounts of water daily, numerous boreholes having been sunk into the aquifer below.
These finite resources are being plundered, seemingly without restriction or effective monitoring, to the detriment of an entire ecosystem.

With the drop in the water table, large parts of the vlei are now dry, reeds have taken over, thriving on nutrients from fertilizers, growing to four or five metres and extending into the bank. The catastrophic effect on the local wildlife can only be guessed at and where there was previously a pristine haven it is now silent and arid.

We cannot turn back the clock, but with the will to succeed, with co-operation between farmers and other locals, conservationists and those who care, with governmental appreciation of the necessity for intervention, it should be possible to undo some of the damage done and prevent further harm to this rare ecosystem. If we don’t act now it will be too late.

How will we answer our children and grandchildren when they ask: “Why is this called a vlei when there’s no water here?” — Carol Beech


Protests: Speak for yourself

Protest has served a historical role on our campus and shaped how people have seen our universities.

It is up to individuals and student groups alike to make clear their stance on violence and the destruction of property. Representatives of student bodies, political groups, sports teams and other student groups should show what a democracy looks like and speak out.

Regardless of whether you participated in a peaceful protest or stayed home, the title of violent protester has been thrust upon you by the actions of a few. It is up to you to loudly reject it or silently accept it.

And for those students who do believe there is legitimacy in violence and the destruction of property, you should also make your voices clear and show what portion of the student body you truly represent.

We should all denounce the destruction of both public and private property and the harm against people with whom you disagree. Students should rise above violence and looting at protests. — Naveen Sukdeo, Durban


Sinoxolo’s death reflects SA’s mentality

South Africans are the strangest people on the African continent. Most of them think they are better than Africans from other parts of the continent. They call their fellow African brothers and sisters “grigambas” and “makwerekwere” but never refer to Europeans and Asians by these derogatory names.

Cost of corruption — How a toddler died at Bosasa’s detention centre details how four-year-old Sinoxolo, whose mother is a South African, and who was detained with his Congolese paternal aunt Irene Malumbu at the Lindela Repatriation Centre in 2004, died shortly after falling ill. His aunt was not illegally in South Africa; it is just that she did not have her residence permit with her when the police demanded it in Johannesburg. This would never happen to a white boy and his white aunt irrespective of whether they were illegally in South Africa.

Those responsible for Sinoxolo’s death must be prosecuted. And South Africans should jettison their colonial and slave mentality. — Sam Ditshego, Kagiso


God not to blame for corruption

Juju and the profits of Doom by Shaun de Waal belittles God and all those, such as myself, who believe and follow after God.

I understand the author’s desire to point out the hypocrisy of those who claim to follow Christ when their actions are so clearly anything but Christlike. This has always been a challenge for those Christians who deeply love Christ and strive to be truly Christlike. We are painted with the same judgmental brush. We can bear that prejudice.

Yet the article goes too far in ascribing evil to God, as it does when it ends by saying “Praise God”. I find it deeply offensive believing, as I and millions of others do, that God is not the author of evil.

In our view God is the suffering servant who came to take away the sins of the world. He is anything but unjust and we treasure everything to do with Him.

This country still identifies as largely believing in God, at least according to Statistics South Africa, and the Mail & Guardian should understand that, when you disrespect God, you disrespect many of your most ardent supporters.

By all means point out the corruption, but please don’t lay the blame at God’s door. — Stephen Logan


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