Skip to main content

Reporting from the Helm July 2021

I do not doubt that there was a collective gasp of disbelief as we all watched helplessly as chaos engulfed our country these past few days. None of us have been left unaffected by these events. Uncertainty, fear and vulnerability are sentiments we are hearing from our communities, family, friends and clients. Kim and I wanted to share our personal reflections of the last few days with you, and more importantly, to reassure you that we are here for you and here to assist you wherever we can.

Just when we thought we had enough to deal with, we have watched KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng descend into chaos. When news broke on Saturday morning that 38 trucks had been torched overnight in the vicinity of Mooi River and Howick, we had no idea that four days later we would be witnessing the total devastation that followed. Watching the news on tv, I can only recall one other occasion in my adult life where I could not believe my eyes and that was when the planes flew into the world trade centre in New York. Imprisoning Jacob Zuma last week has been blamed as the trigger of these events, although there seems to be far more at play that most of us have no understanding of.

When I turned on my phone on Tuesday morning, there was a message on our community WhatsApp group requesting any men with firearms to help man roadblocks. A second request followed for any ladies with nursing experience to please support our local hospital to assist patients as staff had not arrived at work. During these past few days, we have received many requests for help with feeding people on the front line, as no supplies are coming into town. Pietermaritzburg and Howick are almost totally destroyed, and we as a community in Hilton are doing everything we can to prevent our local shopping centre from being looted and destroyed. Our community groups have been the most active ever, with footage of the activities and carnage in surrounding areas. Most of the roads in the area are closed, and all the shops have been closed since Sunday. This evening, a local farmer kindly delivered a milk trailer to the top of our road, where residents gathered with containers to stock up.

Who would have ever thought we would find ourselves at the peak of a pandemic, with many people fighting for their lives and now having to contend with the chaos and disruption of the last few days and the genuine threats of looming food shortages.

And while the situation is dire and seemingly hopeless, I have to acknowledge how deeply moved I have been by the strong sense of community that has not only been displayed in my community of Hilton but through communities countrywide. These acts of kindness and community give me hope for the future of our country and our ability to rebuild what has been broken.

Please all take care and stay healthy in the days and weeks ahead as we navigate yet another very challenging time in our country. Our whole team is available and are here to support you.

Warm regards,