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Review
/NU/` 1 1 4ALEAM | #
CNCN
Sunday Times
R-1 JDCP
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Cosatu has been linked to the resumption of violent
farm protests in the Western Cape. Chris Barron asked
Cosatu provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich . . .
Why caII for a resumption of protest
action at preciseIy the time the fruit
must be picked? This is not a strike
called by Cosatu or any of the other
unions.
Do you support the resumption of
strikes at this particuIar time? The
workers decided to resume the strike
now because they understand that this is
their best bargaining position.
What happens if the fruit rots on the
trees as a resuIt? What happens if the
workers families continue to go to ruin
because theyre required to live on
starvation wages?
Have you toId them that if the fruit rots
they wiII not get paid anything at aII?
They know this better than we do. The
point the workers make is that theyve
tried for years to get a good
arrangement with farmers; the farmers
have disregarded that. If this strike leads
to their common ruin then thats a risk
theyre willing to take.
Have you pointed out the
consequences if farmers defauIt on
commitments to their overseas
markets? Thats what led them in the
past into accepting slave conditions.
When they see the Mercedes and the
houses of farmers getting bigger every
year, they start to wonder whether the
budget is really as tight as it is claimed.
Is it not disingenuous to impIy that
sIave conditions are the norm? Is it not
true that onIy a smaII minority are
seasonaI workers and the rest are
Iooked after quite weII? Were talking
about things on an aggregate level,
surely. There are good farmers and
there are bad farmers. The workers are
trying to make sure that the whole
industry is a good industry that has
some regard for their livelihood.
That is not going to happen if there is
no industry at aII, is it? If these are the
tactics they feel compelled to embark on,
its unfortunate that it may threaten the
whole industry, but weve got to start
taking South African domestic
circumstances into account as well as
international [ones].
Do they understand that they need the
farmers more than the farmers need
them? Both should understand they
cant do without each other.
The farmers say they can do without
most of the workers by mechanising? I
dont share that view. You cant
mechanise table grapes any more than
they have. Theyve mechanised as far as
they can. They dont employ workers as
a favour to them.
Is it not true that 90X of the seasonaI
workers get paid according to how
much they pick, so they can earn much
more than the R69 a day we hear
about? My information from the
workers is that they earn close to that.
In the context of a situation in which
miIIions are earning nothing at aII, is
the answer to cIose down an industry?
Nobody wants to close down the
industry.
Do you support the caII for an
internationaI boycott of Western Cape
fruit? I support the call for a boycott of
those farmers who dont want to pay
decent wages. As far as their exports to
international markets [are concerned],
we should arrange a boycott of their
products.
Yo u d rather these markets sourced
from ChiIe? We draw a distinction
between good and bad farmers. The
good farmers we want to promote
their exports and sales.
Why did we not see these protests
when the ANC was running the
Western Cape? This is not an issue of
the ANC or the DA. The issue is that all
workers deserve a living wage. What
their reasons are for protesting at this
stage I dont know.
Is it pureIy coincidentaI that the
protests started after the ANC
circuIated a Ietter saying it wouId make
the Western Cape ungovernabIe,
starting with agricuIture? I dont know;
youll have to ask the ANC that. As far
as I know, theyve come out in protest
because of the R69 wage they cant live
on. At some point the bubble burst in
mining; now it has burst in agriculture.
These things have their own timing,
their own dynamic.
SC `/N`
OUE5TION5
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Our prisons need a
watchdog with teeth
Recent riots show the rights of inmates are being ignored, writes Ruth Hopkins
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Runaway numbers
squeeze universities
Either fees must go up, or the National Student Financial Aid Scheme allocations will have to
I
TS that time of year when
thousands of successful
matriculants are trying to
gain entry to one of South
Africas 23 tertiary institutions.
Long queues of late
applicants have again formed
outside some universities.
There were no queues outside
the University of Johannesburg
(UJ) because we provided
complete online application
facilities, but there were close
to 30 000 calls to our call centre
and a similar number of hits
on our mobisite.
It is gratifying to know that
our institutions of higher
learning are so popular and
our young people understand
that tertiary education can
provide the door to a better
future for them, their
families and their
communities. However, it is
also tragic that so many
applicants will not make it
through the university gate.
Our universities are
criticised at times for not being
more accessible. That is only
partly true. They have finite
capacity and resources and
they must maintain entry
requirements to ensure that
academic standards are not
compromised.
Two new universities, in
Mpumalanga and the Northern
Cape, are being established,
but even when they are fully
functional our university
system will be unable to cope.
Many worthy students will fall
through the cracks and they
are the tip of the iceberg.
It is what lies beneath that
should really concern us: 56%
of pupils who entered the
schooling system did not even
get to write matric in 2012.
Of the 624 000 pupils who sat
for the national senior
certificate (matric) last year,
only 26.6% with an average
pass rate of 50% qualified for
university exemption to sit for
bachelor degrees. Even if one
adds those who qualify for
diploma studies at universities,
there is a huge attrition rate.
That is a lot of hope dashed
and a massive amount of
human potential lost. The
country must suffer as a
result.
Exclusivity may be a general
public perception when
students and parents see the
poignant queues outside our
university gates at this time of
the year. From inside the
university, however, it presents
another picture altogether.
Universities are under
considerable stress. They are
under pressure to increase
intake numbers and must
balance the massification of
higher education with the non-
negotiable need to maintain
academic standards.
This is no easy task,
particularly for universities
such as UJ that are committed
to educating the poor, because
the overall quality of students
coming through the gate
reflects deficits in the
schooling system, which is
forcing university
managements to invest heavily
in academic and socio-psycho
support for many students.
In the case of UJ, this
support amounted to about
R88-million last year and this
year the figure will be close to
R100-million. In a normal
environment, these funds
could be used to supplement
student fees and bolster the
academy.
Equally, in a normal
environment, a university such
as UJ would not be putting
almost R30-million a year aside
from its own resources to feed
hungry students. But we are
not in a normal situation and
will not be for many years to
come.
Universities are also
expected to immerse
themselves in community
engagement, which is
important in the South African
context, of course, but this
commitment constitutes a
further tax on academic and
university-wide resources.
Increased student intakes
and support mean that
academic teaching loads are
increasing exponentially.
Academics are also under
pressure to produce more
accredited research.
All this indicates a major
squeeze on university
resources, both financial and
human. We have already
passed the point where the
major source of student
funding at public universities,
the National Student Financial
Aid Scheme, can cope with the
demand. The schemes funding
stood at R2.6-billion in 2011 and
is expected to rise to R3.6-
billion this year. UJs forecast
allocation for 2013 is R298-
million, 8% higher than in 2012,
but this falls well short of the
current need, which we
estimate will result in a
shortfall of R192-million, up
from R9-million in 2009.
At UJ, the annual average
growth in applications to the
scheme has been 11.8% since
2006, from 7 894 applications to
19 520 this year, 69% of whom
qualify for the funding,
according to UJs trend
analysis. The implication of
this staggering growth in
demand is that fewer first-
years can start their studies
and fewer senior students can
continue without funding from
the scheme.
Last year, UJ spent
R45-million of its own reserves
to augment the schemes
funding. This was in addition
to R89-million spent on
bursaries. This year, it will
allocate only R20-million to the
scheme, whereas bursary
funding has increased to
R107-million.
Unlike universities in
developed countries, where
shortfalls have been met by
student fee increases, in South
Africa fee increases are
extremely sensitive and tend
to lead to volatile reactions.
Equally sensitive is the
exclusion of senior students for
financial reasons and,
unfortunately, this is already
happening.
Our universities are between
a rock and a hard place. As
things stand, the funding
model is simply not
sustainable. We either grasp
the nettle of fee increases and
cap entry, or scheme
allocations have to increase in
line with the governments
desire to educate its best
young minds.
In the South African context,
the latter is really the only
sensible option, but it needs to
happen now
Professor Rensburg is
principal and vice-chancellor
of the University of
Johannesburg
Phylicia Oppelts Bitter Sweet
column will be back next week
M
INISTER of Correctional
Services Sbu Ndebele has
condemned the riots that
broke out in Groenpunt prison
on Monday, calling themthe worst in
South African history. According to
Ndebele: There are proper channels; as
inmates there will be complaints; it is
the right of inmates to have their food
and water.
More than 200 inmates in the
maximum security unit of the prison in
Deneysville in the Free State refused to
eat and set fire to the administration
buildings and some cells. They turned
shower heads and rods into handmade
weapons and pelted broken floor tiles at
the warders. The inmates were
dissatisfied that their complaints about
food and a lack of training and
rehabilitation programmes were not
being dealt with.
At the end of November, inmates in
the Mangaung prison in Bloemfontein
also put up a fight and a nurse and
doctor were taken hostage.
Interestingly, in neither case did
inmates orchestrate escapes amid the
chaos and violence. There were no
follow-up. Moreover, the inspectorate
has not been able to effectively address
the serious issue of torture, despite
receiving and processing complaints
about it.
The use of force by prison officials is
not legally defined in the criminal code.
Inmates are punished disproportionately
with electric shocks, batons, leg irons
and pepper spray.
It took a former inmate and his lawyer
to litigate and legally address this issue.
In 2004, Bradley McCallum and 230 other
inmates were stripped naked,
sodomised, beaten and given electric
shocks in Port Elizabeths St Albans
prison when warders retaliated for the
murder of a colleague in the prison.
McCallum and his lawyer took the case
to the Human Rights Committee in
Geneva, which ruled that this treatment
could be qualified as torture.
The inspectorate could play a role in
decreasing and addressing incidences of
assault on and torture of prisoners if its
findings and recommendations could be
legally enforced. Despite including
figures on assault in its annual reports,
in the past three years there have not
been any criminal prosecutions of
officials implicated in the assault and
death of inmates.
This is not because the inspecting
judge and his team are indifferent to the
fate of prisoners, but because the
institutional design of his office does not
allow for much interference in human
rights violations. The inspectorate is not
an independent body, because it is
financed by and accountable to the
Department of Correctional Services. It
receives complaints and notes them, but
it has no investigative powers.
And, importantly, there is no
legislation to enforce the inspecting
judges recommendations.
There should be a truly independent
watchdog with the power to intervene
on behalf of this vulnerable group in
society, in line with international best
practice. This is not only a matter of
principle, but can be one of life and
death, as the spread of tuberculosis in
prisons has made clear.
The inspectorate has reported the
spread of tuberculosis in prisons for
years, warning that it poses a huge risk.
The spread of the illness goes
unchecked, which has allowed what
should be a manageable pulmonary
disease to rapidly infect and kill
inmates, who are crammed into
overcrowded cells with poor ventilation,
little sunlight and scarce access to
doctors and medication.
This situation was addressed when a
tenacious former inmate, Dudley Lee,
pursued a lengthy legal process that
culminated in a Constitutional Court
judgment two months ago. It held that
the department had acted negligently by
not respecting its own health regulations
and was therefore responsible for Lees
infection with tuberculosis. This will
probably set a positive precedent for
other inmates infected with the disease.
When confronted with the multiple
flaws in the prison system, the
department points at the shortage of
qualified staff. However, there is no lack
of financial resources to fix this issue.
The first-quarter expenditure report of
the department, presented to the
parliamentary portfolio committee three
months ago, revealed underspending in
the programmes for incarceration,
rehabilitation, care and social
reintegration exactly the areas that
caused the Groenpunt and Mangaung
inmates to riot.
The prison system provides a fertile
breeding ground for more rioting. The
position of remand detainees, who
comprise roughly one-third of the total
160 000 prisoners in South Africa, is
arguably worse than that of the
Groenpunt and Mangaung prisoners,
who were incarcerated in the sentenced
section. There are 2 700 awaiting-trial
detainees innocent until proven guilty
who have been locked up for two
years or more because the court system
is severely clogged. Educational
facilities, including libraries, are
nonexistent in remand detention
centres. Inmates are classified as non-
contact prisoners and are therefore not
allowed to touch their loved ones when
they visit.
It is a matter of time before new riots
erupt if the government does not
provide inmates with effective legal
recourse when their rights and dignity
are infringed. The Department of
Correctional Services is violating its
own rules and regulations by not
addressing poor prison conditions.
Ndebele and the government need to
recognise that there are no proper
channels for prisoners grievances. The
office of the inspecting judge should
therefore be endowed with the power to
properly investigate and address human
rights violations of prisoners.
Hopkins is a journalist for the Wits
Justice Project, which investigates
miscarriages of justice
demands for getaway cars or helicopters
and no calls for ransom money.
Given the violent nature of the acts,
their pleas were surprisingly modest.
The Groenpunt prisoners demanded
improved conditions, such as a better
diet, education and rehabilitation
programmes, and the Mangaung
inmates wanted to be transferred to a
prison in Gauteng so that they would be
closer to their loved ones and because
they could no longer bear the often
violent conditions where they were.
If, as Ndebele claims, there are proper
channels for grievances, why are
inmates resorting to drastic measures?
The first port of call for prisoners who
wish to file a complaint is the Judicial
Inspectorate for Correctional Services,
which is headed by an inspecting judge,
Vuka Tshabalala. The inspectorates
mandate is to monitor and inspect
correctional facilities.
However, prisoners who have written
to or spoken with the Wits Justice
Project complain that although the
independent correctional centre visitors
who work for the inspectorate do
register their complaints, there is no
From the Sunday Times 50 years ago
THE racial isolation of the all-Black
students at Turfloop university college is
fostering a spirit of narrow nationalism.
Paradoxically this, the Governments s h ow
institution designed to turn out apartheid-
oriented students, is instead producing
rabid Black nationalists. These allegations
were made yesterday by a graduate of
Turfloop who now has a well-paid job with
a Rand mining house.
He claims that, despite rigid restrictions,
censorship and subtle indoctrination, the
majority of students at Turfloop are very
much politically aware and anti-White in
their leanings. 5K@=O 6EAI =K=HO
! '$!
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When a McJob is worse
than no work at all
Despite the unemployment crisis, young people are not prepared to give up their dreams of a better life
T
HAT South Africas
greatest crisis is
unemployment has
become a mantra, an
article of faith. If we do not
create more jobs, it is chanted,
our country will soon explode.
Why, then, was much of last
years social unrest the
strikes in the mining sector,
the battles in the Western
Cape farmlands fuelled by
the anger of working people?
I think the time has come to
reformulate precisely what our
greatest crisis is and what it
is not. To call it unemployment
is just too simple.
Oddly enough, research just
completed at the other end of
the continent, in Addis Ababa,
sheds much light on what is
happening in South Africa.
Marco Di Nunzio, an Italian
anthropologist, recently spent
two years on the streets of
Addiss inner city with young,
chronically unemployed
people.
He soon discovered that all
sorts of low-end jobs were
available to them waiting
tables at cafes, performing
menial tasks on construction
sites but many young people
refused them.
Why? Because to join
the unskilled labour market
was, in a profound sense, to
die, to give up hope, to resign
oneself to a life at the bottom
of the heap. It made far more
sense to hold out, to hustle or
steal for as long as one could
and thus save oneself, as it
were, for the dream of a
different life.
The cause of their pain, in
other words, was not that they
were unemployed, but that the
jobs available would sentence
them to lives they did not
think worth living.
If anyone doubted that a
similar syndrome was taking
shape in South Africa, last
years workplace violence
should have made it obvious.
In her brilliant reporting on
the wine industry strikes for
Business Day, Carol Paton
writes of meeting farmworkers
equipped with false eyelashes,
sunglasses and most
surprising of all matric
certificates . . . Many were
young people in their 20s,
dressed in fashionable clothes,
speaking both English and
Afrikaans with fluency. Like
so many South Africans, their
souls and their very beings
were staked on the idea that
they could find a way into the
middle class.
They had worked hard,
educated themselves, groomed
themselves and sent off their
CVs only to find that much of
the country was doing the
same. The lives they had so
fiercely imagined could not
find a place in the world. They
had turned to seasonal farm
labour in despair.
And so the violence in which
they are partaking is an
expression of rage, not against
unemployment, but against the
jobs they have.
In their weekly pay packets
they had seen their futures
and what they saw were lives
they did not want to live.
Farmworkers are hardly the
only example. A few years ago
I interviewed a group of young,
unemployed people in
Alexandra township,
Johannesburg, about their
experiences of the police. On
my way to the interview I had
driven past a branch of
McDonalds advertising a
vacancy. When some of my
interviewees complained of
finding no work, I mentioned
the McDonalds job. They
howled with laughter. When I
asked why they were laughing,
they howled some more.
In their laughter was a story.
Yes, we would have more
money in our pockets if we
took the McDonalds job, they
were saying. But the cost of a
life flipping burger patties is
just too dear. For then we
would have thrown in the
towel. Out here on the streets
we may be poorer, but we can
still dream that another life is
possible. And that is a lot
more valuable than a
minimum wage.
SAs transition to democracy
was famously peaceful. And
yet the language in which it
was described was
revolutionary. The revolution
people craved was not the
toppling of an order or the
execution of a king. It was a
personal revolution: the idea
that you can begin life in a
township and end it in a
suburb, that your children
will find their way to
university, that your
grandchildren will become the
sorts of people whose floors
your parents swept.
These dreams are etched
into South African souls. They
are what freedom means. And
so, when South Africans talk
about finding work, they are
setting the bar very high. They
are talking of scaling heights
previous generations dared not
hope for.
That is why 2012 was a year
of working peoples rage. It
was not unemployment that
angered them. It was the jobs
they had.