Tragedy and Taking Advantage

Tobias Gumede’s eldest child of his Inchanga family, Sepp (19), drowned in the Umgeni river this week. It was a hot day and he and some matric classmates went to the river to cool down. He couldn’t swim so sat on a rock watching the others till he couldn’t resist it, got in and disappeared. It took police dogs to find his body.

His wife Elizabeth is devastated. Her eldest son!

This last week has cost Tobias thousands. His travel and time – to Pietermaritzburg, to Pinetown – and then the funeral. Hiring a hall, providing food and drink to the crowds of people who attended. He couldn’t even guess how many. He just says VERY many.

But here’s the ugly bit: The traditional leader, the induna of the area, demanded of him two goats to ‘cleanse’ the area! Blatant exploitation and abuse. A decent government would insist leaders HELP their people, not exploit them! Luckily he contacted his induna from his birth home area of Jozini who said “Don’t give him anything, I’ll speak to him”.

It would be a simple matter to hold an indaba on what “Traditional Leaders” rights and limits are, and where they are trumped by our Constitution so there can be clear understanding that ALL citizens’ rights are protected.

But that would take courage and political will.

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(pic: Tobias with my kids Jess & Tom some years ago)