“They went about it the wrong way.” Servaas is in his black suit again, the heavy frown changing his eyes to slits. “There’s no such thing as Human Rights. It’s nothing to celebrate, anyway.”
For once, Gertruida looks up in surprise.
“Really Servaas? Where does this come from?”
“Here.” He thumps his chest. “It comes from in here. Human rights are the ultimate oxymoron. It says you have certain rights, and others must respect that. It’s wrong.”
“Come on, Servaas, of course we have rights. Education, protection, medical care…” Vetfaan’s list peters out when Servaas interrupts him.
“Exactly. That’s my point. Now you go tour the country, Vetfaan, and see what the government did with those rights. Schooling is in shambles. The hospitals are understaffed, under equipped, and badly run – in fact, most governmental hospitals do not have the facilities to function properly. As for protection….we have had a slew of senior police officers and commissioners who embarrassed the country.” Servaas sits back, eyeing the ceiling. “And then you get to BEE – do you think white people have the same rights as blacks? Pull the other one, my friend.”
“So, what do you suggest, Servaas. You must have something in mind?”
“We must stop this harping on about rights, and rather look at Human Requirements. What is expected of you rather than what you can expect of society. The requirement to be responsible, versus the demand to have rights. It’s a complete shift in understanding John Doe’s position in society.”
“Ah…I get it!” Gertruida’s face lights up. “You’re saying you can only have rights – or earn the right to have rights – by respecting your fellow man?”
“Exactly. Look what’ll happen: with enough respect going around, you’ll have no more raping, no murders, no crime, no corruption. Those things exist because some people imagine it is their right to take what is not theirs. They embrace their rights and deny others theirs. Why? They have no respect, and therefore no responsibility.” He lets out one of his famous, long, drawn-out sighs. “It’s a social disease. It started long before Apartheid and won’t stop until we – everyone of us – start rethinking what it means to have human rights. And that won’t happen soon. The template for future generations is wrong.”
“But that sounds rather drastic. It implies that people who disrespected others, should be denied their rights – or at least, the human rights as we understand them now.”
“Exactly. That is the punishment needed. Now, if you get caught – and only 6% of criminals get convicted – you have the right to a fair trial. That, I agree with. A fair trial means no dockets going missing, no technical points to throw cases out, no medical parole for healthy friends of the government, no fancy dodging of the law. Once you have been found guilty, you forfeit your rights. It’s harsh, but that is something criminals will respect. They thrive because they can depend on their rights to protect them.”
“Servaas, that is rather radical, you must admit. No responsible government will ever pass such laws. They’ll be rejected by every free country in the world, because it will pave the way for dictatorship.”
“Ha! You see? That’s where the picture gets warped.” Servaas smiles for the first time. “A society whose prime aim is kindness and respect to others, will elect a kind leader – somebody fighting for their rights. It’s as easy as that. In the meantime, we have the right to be raped, murdered, lied to and be served by corrupt officials.” ”
“Well,” Boggel opens a new round, “it won’t happen in our lifetimes. I think I must declare my right to have a beer. It’s a holiday, after all.”
“And that,” Servaas is serious again, “may be the only right left in the country…”