A task of justice

Dr Lutz van Dijk, Masiphumelele

In response to Piet Erasmus’s letter, (“The big fire dispute”, False Bay Echo, February 16), please forgive me if I created a misunderstanding regarding figures in Masiphumelele:

In the community as a whole are an estimated 40 000 residents. The informal settlement called Masi Wetlands
is the poorest part with 14 000 people, about half of them children.

As we seem to be both historians, I assure you that I am aware of the difference between cause and result:

I do not dream that once “open sewers and a crowded inhuman life” in this area have been improved it will be “happily living ever after” in Masiphumelele.

But, yes, I believe that we have enough resources in this beautiful valley to share in a way that extreme poverty can be abolished while security for those around Masiphumelele will improve.

To invest in better education (like some do at present at Masiphumelele High) and to support an agreement between Masiphumelele community leaders and officials to change the extreme dangerous living conditions for those living
in the Masi Wetlands sustainably will benefit all of us. No more huge expenditures for disaster relief again and again, but at least a minimum of hygiene and safe living conditions for the 14 000 wetlands residents and a much better protection of the environment.

The directive by Dr Eshaam Palmer, head of the Provincial Environmental Law Enforcement, has shown the way. Please let us make sure that our politicians follow up on it – before the next disaster will happen again.

Madiba was right when he once said: “Overcoming poverty is not an act of charity, it is a task of justice.”

We can make it happen – even on our doorstep.