Dear Readers: Children: a national priority

Of the 18.5 million South African children under 18, an astonishing 19% are orphans (one or both of their parents have died), 25% do not live with their parents and 60% live in poverty.

Did you even think it possible?

All this endless debate about crime; township gangs out of control; the sexual abuse of children; over-crowded prisons.Now at least we know why.

Given the above statistics, are we surprised about the poor matric results? Whatever we do about redesigning matric courses, can we expect anything but poor results? And given those statistics, “Our children are our future” gets a ghastly new meaning.

Can there be any doubt that we should have only one national priority: child care? Without that, everything else is futile.

Given those statistics, waste and abuse of public resources becomes not mere foolish extravagance, it is sin.

If you read nothing else in this issue, read “Child Alone” in this issue.

This issue contains another milestone story: apart from being one of the longest we have published – seven pages, "Cato Manor: Sunday Times places its final bet" – it is a remarkable document of our time: does anyone tell the truth anymore? Who is telling the truth?

Is there anybody left in public life (and the media) who does not have a hidden agenda or ulterior motive?

Has violence become central to how we operate?

Paul Kirk’s meticulous, laborious research over the past three years not only puts paid to the Sunday Times’s last hope of justifying its sorry role in the demolition of the SAPS Serious and Violent Crimes Unit based at Cato Manor (thereby serving the needs of a bunch of criminals in high places). It has produced an iconic story about crime, the Zuma era, and wars of every kind in Jacob Zuma’s home territory.


While this is the February issue, it is, of course, being written and produced in January, when the New Year spirit is still abroad. It’s a time to reassess our lives, and to celebrate our friends.

Paging through the proofs, I am struck by how lucky we are to have Stacey Stent as our cartoonist, to still have Gus and Harold’s gentle, humane touch; and those regular wry, observant letters from our friends in Umjindi and Sydney;  to have the same loyal admin staff who’ve been here for years and still manage to answer each day’s myriad calls with patience and a smile; to have the company of our regular gang of (classy) shit-stirrers who keep the pot boiling; for the continued support of you, our readers, who keep writing us such wonderful letters. What editor could ask for more?

Thank you, and Happy New Year! (I know it’s a month late, but I’m blaming that on the Post Office.)

The Editor

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