Reader’s letter: Where do our priorities lie?


Sarita du Toit writes:

I’m not really interested in netball, but watched South Africa’s World Cup matches when I could. I don’t actually watch rugby, but watch the Springboks’ World Cup matches when I can. Otherwise I watch the highlights or read a report or something about it.

It was therefore with surprise that I recently saw exactly the same spectator at a Rugby World Cup match from South Africa as I saw at the Netball World Cup.

And it was with extreme shock that on Wednesday I read the report “If these super-fans bother you, you are racist, says department” about two so-called super-fans and realized that this was who the person was. And that (according to the report) all travel and accommodation costs as well as an allowance are paid to them by the department of sport, art and culture. And that the same department does not want to disclose the criteria for the selection of the two persons.

Why am I so incredibly shocked? For the past seven months I have been living in a karoo town where the hardships take extreme forms. I see a thin mature man in his 30s asking for money, food and work on the side of the road.

I stop and hear the skinny starving boy next to him is his son. Ten years old. He politely introduces himself and I give them an opportunity to go to the local supermarket to buy R160 worth of food and fruit at a good price. Because that is what I can give him today. When I drove away, a woman and a little girl appeared next to him and the four walked down the street as if they belonged together. A family that definitely lives in poverty and the 10-year-old school-going son who looks like he hasn’t eaten properly in a very long time.

When I drive past them on other days, I give fruit or something I have to eat in my car. Often I don’t see him there and wonder where they get food from today? How is the 10-year-old boy doing in school? After all, his body needs food to perform and learn physically and cognitively? I’m not even talking about the thousands of others in this town and millions of others in the country who are in the same situation.

Often I cry about the situation. And I wish I could help them so that the father can at least have a steady job and create a better life for his family.

Or, perhaps I should mention the small, skinny “gogo” who struggles down the street alone with her two crutches. Her “Sassa expedition” was fruitless – she is now going to ask her neighbors for food.

Then I read the report that two people (what are the chances that they are both “super” rugby and netball “fans”?) are funded by a government department to act as spectators during a World Cup in a European capital?

Why? How many people could have acquired food or skills for those thousands of rands? What are our priorities? What is our vision as a country? Do we want to keep up appearances while others starve to death? I’m trying to do the sum but it just doesn’t work out. Maybe someone else can explain it? I’m just wondering and asking…