I’ve seen several social media discussions noting apparent inconsistencies in Vytjie Mentor’s submission to the State Capture Commission of Inquiry. These have suggested her memory may be failing her, resulting in her being unsure of some of her facts.
Some have said she seemed nervous at times, giving more detail than was required.
It’s no secret that there are people who’d like Mentor’s submission to be found wanting. They have a lot to gain from it being thrown out.
This lady has been called many things by many people opposed to her steadfast fight for what is right, and yet she remains standing.
Vytjie Mentor is not alone, of course.
She, Themba Maseko, Mcebisi Jonas, Makhosi Khoza and many other known and unknown courageous South Africans – who chose to place our collective interests and those of our country ahead of their personal material being, safety, and the narrow interests of their political masters – should never be made to feel alone.
They did what they did for all of us.
They also did what they did – I know because I’ve personally spoken to some of them – because they had not lost sight of the South Africa we all agreed to build, at the dawn of our post-apartheid dispensation.
Some will be called to testify publicly.
Others, faceless whistle blowers who let light shine into the dark corridors of kleptocracy, will quietly follow the proceedings, knowing they played their part as well as they could.
Tears and trepidation
I have seen grown men and women like Mentor shed tears over what the ANC has become.
I still see this look of trepidation when the same people talk about what lies ahead if the seemingly sacrosanct tradition that sees the deputy becoming president is followed. This is, of course, assuming the ANC remains the leading political force, despite the reputational credit it has lost.
Vytjie Mentor cannot be alone, because South Africa is filled with patriots and professionals who, over the years of ANC rule, have found themselves being thrown out into the cold.
This has happened to them either for speaking out against wrongdoing, or for refusing to be complicit in actions that would compromise the ability of public institutions to deliver necessary services to South Africans.
Some walked away with hefty golden handshakes in exchange for their silence. Others were constructively dismissed, and others found themselves facing unfounded charges they could not challenge in the courts due to the heavy financial and emotional tolls this could have taken on them and their loved ones.
These people come from various South African backgrounds and have been lost to the system, despite good academic qualifications and, in many cases, many years of professional experience.
They served in the much-respected Scorpions crime fighting unit which was dismantled in defence of the indefensible; they got accused of being a rogue unit within SARS when all they did was to help this once-respected state institution collect tax revenue from those who had mastered the art of tax evasion; they got suspended and eventually fired from the NPA when they started showing interest in the illicit activities of powerful political figures and their coalitions of enablers; and they served in other state institutions with dignity and dedication until they got the boot for refusing to do wrong.
Connect the dots
So, let us follow the unfolding events in the state capture inquiry. Let us do this not in search of entertainment, or reasons to make fun of patriots who are forced to relive their horror under oath, in front of media cameras, or for the thrill of seeing them trip over their sometimes-fragile memories of what happened during the cushioned reign of the one whose name we shall not mention.
Let us do so in order to keep connecting the dots and to understand the depth and breadth of state capture; for our country’s economic, social, and political health is yet to recover from the toxic effects of that era.
We should also follow the Commission’s processes so that when we go to the polls, we do so better informed of what could happen to our beloved country if we remain gullible and vote only with our emotions, not considering the longer-term interests of a united South Africa.
We should be thankful for these South Africans who dared raise their hands to defend the interests of our country, despite clear threats to their lives and livelihood. We should nurture a bit of them in ourselves and ensure that their selflessness has not been in vain. We should also celebrate them while they’re still here with us, not after they die.