Lowering Standards Leads To Anarchy

Tony Leon once presciently stated that “standards would be lowered to you.” Daily the accuracy of his prediction finds fulfilment and is exemplified by the plea that several so-called students be pardoned for their acts of public violence and arson so that “they can lead normal lives” (Mercury, August 27).

One can only speculate as to what the writer of this plea, Hendrick Makeneta of the Education for Social Justice Foundation, means by “normal” and the irony of his request. He seeks to have charges dropped for deeds that were shamelessly and willfully committed and which seriously disrupted the academic lives of entire campuses. The deeds involved the torching of buildings, wanton destruction of equipment and the burning of part of the Howard College law library. One of the arsonists, Bonginisi Khanyile, stated that he was “proud” of the fact that following his example, students on the Pietermaritzburg campus of UKZN had torched a building (Daily News, October 11, 2016).

To add insult to injury, despite being on a full bursary of taxpayers’ money granted by the KZN premier’s office, Khanyile and his ilk demand that tertiary education should be free for all. In a normal society, such acts of anarchy do not go unpunished and cannot be pardoned. For Makeneta to attempt to argue that his clients “did not anticipate that their actions would lead them to jail,” besides being risible, raises the question of the perception his clients have of what constitutes “normal” conduct.

Given the track record of how violations of the law are dealt with, Justice and Correctional Services minister Masutha is likely to grant Khanyile and his fellow arsonists’ amnesty from prosecution thereby further affirming Tony Leon’s dictum on declining standards. But what needs to be appreciated is that excessive tolerance ultimately results in anarchy.

Sent into The Mercury and published, 29 August 2018.

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