Guy Leitch

There are the obvious terrible contrasts: specifically that we have the highest Gini coefficient of inequality in the world. The ANC government has failed dismally to uplift the poor, so the old African truism; “The rich get richer, while the poor have babies” has never been truer than in South Africa.

It’s not surprising that the frustrations exploded after the incendiary comments of the ‘Free Zuma’ rabble rousers. The destruction is heart-breaking and impoverishing – but the thugs care only for themselves.

Yet against the seemingly irresistible tide of looters and criminal opportunists, there has been a quiet yet profound groundswell of pushback – by the South Africans I consider ‘builders’ rather than ‘breakers’. These are the same quality people who quietly voted with generosity of spirit for a political transformation back in 1990, and so created the miracle of the Rainbow Nation.

Sometimes it’s the most unlikely groups that become builders rather than breakers. One such is Santaco – the association for the notoriously lawless minibus taxi drivers. It could naturally – but wrongly – be assumed that Santaco would likewise be militantly lawless and on the side of the looters – perhaps even helping the now infamous looter transport the stolen 58-inch TV that would not fit in his Corolla.

Yet Santaco turned out to be one of the good guys. They enthusiastically partnered with Airlink to distribute over 2,000 food hampers to those most in need. An Airlink Embraer 190 provided free transport for 88 volunteers to fly to Pietermaritzburg – on Nelson Mandela Day. Santaco minibus taxis then transported the hampers and helpers – also for no cost – to those most in need.


This issue devotes considerable space to the unstinted giving that the aviation community has brought to the KZN airbridge. Almost all airlines in South Africa made huge contributions. My column looks at some of the efforts of the individuals who gave of their time, talents and their treasured aircraft to help those in desperate need.

Airlink gave generously in so many ways.

Daily Maverick wrote, “There will be years of reflection on this week’s looting. With luck we’ll also see those believed to have set the match on the powder keg behind bars. For now, there are the organisations rushing into the chasm to help where they can. …. Ultimately the villains responsible for instigating this carnage lost. There is no dissolution of state or presidency. Jacob Zuma is still choking down his prison food, and the fibres of our society, while very frayed, are not yet completely torn.”

Perhaps the best summary of the various initiatives comes from Santaco spokesperson, Sifiso Shangase, who said;

“In the spirit of Nelson Mandela Day we can help to bridge and heal the ruptures to the social fabric in our region and neighbourhoods, especially where fear and insecurity saw some communities seek retribution by attacking their neighbours.”


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