Columns 28.11.2013 08:00 am

Stop slating our heroes

There’s a new very disturbing culture which, if not nipped in the bud, threatens to further erode the rapidly disintegrating moral fibre of our nation.

Worryingly our leaders, who should be leading by example, are often guilty of spearheading this rot. We have of late seen heroes and heroines, who are doing so much to get this country working – individuals who truly care about this country and its people – being vilified and insulted instead of being celebrated.

On the other hand, crime bosses and corrupt leaders who should be treated as outcasts are sympathised with and, in some cases, glorified. A shining example is outstanding individuals like independent forensic investigator Paul O’Sullivan and Public Protector Thuli Madonsel, whose good work speaks for itself.

He might be too arrogant for some; but this should not discount the good job O’Sullivan is doing in the fight against crime. He is the man who blew the whistle on former police chief Jackie Selebi.

O’Sullivan also played a key role in cracking a rhino poaching syndicate led by Thai national Chumlong Lemtongthai who exploited legislation that allows “trophy hunting” of rhinos to obtain vast quantities of horn. As we speak this poacher is safely behind bars. O’Sullivan has also dedicated a huge chunk of his time pursuing Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir, who is also now in custody.

I was surprised by a few callers to a radio station on a late night show earlier this week, who instead of showering O’Sullivan with praise for his sterling work in making SA a safer country, seemed irritated by his efficiency. While there were some who appreciated the good work he is doing, others were not impressed at all.

One caller even went to the extent of asking O’Sullivan what he stood to gain from his investigations and who bankrolled him.

Madonsela also finds herself in a similar situation. This honest and upright superwoman, who excels in her job of the pursuit of good governance, has been subjected to a barrage of attacks by people who should be leading the nation in acknowledging the important role she plays in strengthening our democracy.

Madonsela has several big scalps under her belt. These include former police commissioner Bheki Cele, EFF leader Julius Malema, former communications minister Dina Pule and former public works minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde. Of her investigative work, none has put her on a collision course with the ANC more than her probe into the scandalous multi-million rand renovation of President Jacob Zuma’s private home in Nkandla. Strangely, some of those leading the demonisation campaign against this incompetence and corruption buster are elected public representatives who should be at the forefront of protecting individuals and institutions that safeguard our democracy. Instead of this happening, we are seeing dodgy characters nailed by Madonsela being portrayed as innocent victims of some conspiracy.

We are doomed as a society once we tolerate attacks on those who fight the cancer of graft that is betraying many dreams and aspirations for a better life. Equally, the praise singing accorded to underworld figures and thieving politicians should serve as worrying sign to all of us that we are destined for irrecoverable moral damage.

 

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