Letter to the Editor
Attempted Murder Should non-complying citizens be charged with attempted murder if found to be positive?
“From midnight on Thursday, March 26 until midnight on Thursday, April 16, all South Africans will have to stay at home,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said Monday evening in a televised address to the nation. “This is a decisive measure to save lives of South Africans from infections and to save lives of hundreds of thousands of our people,” he added. It seems however, that the masses have failed to entirely heed the Presidents call to strict isolation. There have been numerous reports of locals moving around freely and many instances of incarceration for incidents like cycling and public drinking.
As a fellow South African, it’s offensive to observe behaviour like this when the entire Globe is in overt crises. Whether we attribute this mind-set of nonchalance to ignorance or the principle of liberal democracy, COVID-19 is not a matter to be taken as lightly as we have.
A strong yet debatable question arises in light of the current situation, should non-complying citizens be charged with attempted murder if found to be positive or if they contract the virus during isolation violations? The amount of confirmed cases in Southern Africa continues to rise at an alarming rate and is far higher than many countries who are now in disastrous positions. Our communities and governments have been pleading with all citizens to isolate and abide by the lockdown restrictions lest we perpetuate the current status quo and dynamic of the viral spread.
South Africa, as the UK, US, Italy and Spain should have done, should re-examine the contributors to the spread of COVID-19 and learn from those countries who have emerged as victors in the face of the virus.
To many it appeared as if the South African government were lying in wait as it discerned from a distance the methods that China and South Korea have put in place. Defined as a liberal democracy, we looked on as a Communist regime enforced strict rules upon its people. From an objective perspective, despite being the origin of the pandemic, we cannot overlook the successful lockdown measures Wuhan achieved. Whether we deem the measures they resorted to as draconian or oppressive, the enforced restrictions allowed the province of Wuhan to turn the tide on the rise of the Coronavirus.
The city of Wuhan has now officially reopened after more than two months of near total isolation. In February there had been 48,557 confirmed patients and 2,169 deaths in Wuhan, but the country has now reported an incredible milestone by stating that there were no new local infections for the first time since the pandemic began.
As governments elsewhere in the world struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic, China has cemented itself as a strong testament of what can be achieved when a militant government that accepts no discord is mobilized with one vision – social distancing & self-isolation.
The turnaround by the Chinese government is a lesson to be heeded by South Africa and the World over. The infection rate in South Africa has been reported to be more aggressive than the rate in Italy. With Italy possessing first world medical infrastructure, it’s a chilling thought that the country has long surpassed the Chinese death tally. On the 27th of March, it was reported that the number of individuals who have died from COVID-19 in Italy has risen by 969 in the past day, the biggest daily jump since the pandemic began. The total number cases in Italy now stands at 86,498 and the death tally now sits at 9,134 people.
“I don’t want to minimise the horror of what we’re living through. The death toll here in Italy is more than 9,000 and Emilia-Romagna, where I live, accounts for more than 1,200 of those fatalities. We know a few who have died: one friend has lost both parents and we currently have two others in hospital – so I’m not downplaying the grief and anxieties” said one Italian reporter.
The Italian novelist Francesca Melandri has a written a letter to the UK entitled “from your future”. “I am writing to you from Italy, which means I am writing from your future. We are now where you will be in a few days. The epidemic’s charts show us all entwined in a parallel dance.”
Let us heed the lessons from Italy, and let us learn from the triumph of China. Now is not the time to exercise “democratic” rights, now is the time to abide and conform to the laws imposed by government – for this country, for our friends, for our families, for ourselves.