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You have the right to know

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When I learnt that the case of Dr Steven Levy was back in front of the Health Professions Council of South Africa’s legal committee, this time to appeal the sentence, I felt queasy. In fact, that feeling had little to do with outcome, and everything to do with the reaction of the community to our last story about this man.
by PETA KROST MAUNDER | Aug 16, 2018

For those who don’t remember, some people didn’t just question our decision to write the story about Levy being found guilty of sexual abuse, they lambasted us to the point of making threats.

And here we are again, and we made the same decision… to run the story. Whatever the outcome, we need to inform you about what is happening in a clear and honest way.

This time, the appeal to lengthen Levy’s suspension from practicing medicine was dismissed. He is now able to resume his medical practice.

I truly hope that, through this experience and intense therapy, he will never abuse anyone again.

Now, more than ever, I am grateful for having made the decision to run the initial story in September last year. I have no doubt that Levy is good at medicine, and that those patients who stood by him will go back to his practice. But now people are aware of what happened, and will be cautious.

Our decision to run the follow-up story this week was made against the will of certain people who wanted us to ignore it and just let it pass, not wanting to bring the news to the public. But, our original reasoning still stands.

Levy has had, I imagine, a horrendous year, but he has now been given the go ahead to resume working as a doctor. That is the legal truth, and the public has the right to know, no matter what you think about Levy or those he harmed.

As your newspaper, we believe you have the right to know. (See page 1)

Law versus doing good

The law is a multifaceted space, and throughout Jacob Zuma’s rule, it was one of the few pillars of society that stood firm and strong. So, this week, when Shaun Abrahams was finally relieved of his duty as boss of the National Prosecuting Authority, it was the law at its best. (See page 7)

However, the law sometimes takes a long and windy road to justice. Many of us believed Abrahams should have been kicked out a long time ago. We also believed that Zuma should have been made to resign following his experience in the docks. That didn’t happen. But the truth always comes out, and justice is usually seen to be done.

But, we don’t always have to sit around and wait for the courts. What do I mean? I am not suggesting that we take the law into our own hands, nothing like that.

I am referring rather to people who see injustice, and instead of moaning and groaning – as we are all wont to do at times – they do something to improve the situation.

So, last week, I commended and supported the Cape Board of Deputies for its #NoMoreHate campaign, in which people are asked to take on projects to alleviate hate.

This week, in the name of the Jeffrey Zetler – the strawberry farmer who was murdered earlier this year – and his family, Jewish Stellenbosch University students and the congregation are pledging to do something spiritual (see page 3). They are taking something awful and sad, and doing something good and uplifting in its name. I love that idea!

I love the fact that we can look at sad, bad, ugly, and downright horrific situations and do something good in their stead. So, when you remember the bad, replace it with something uplifting that will help you and others.

A clear psychological shift takes place when people do this. Instead of feeling miserable and desperate, they take the reins and steer themselves towards something uplifting, and cease only seeing the negative.

Could it be that these two campaigns are the start of a trend? I would like to think so. It could be the start of a trend that turns us from our general negativity towards finding our own upliftment.

I think back to a recent extremely powerful campaign, the #MeToo campaign. It was powerful in that it gave women around the world a safe space to come forward and open up about the abuse they had suffered. It was empowering and incredible to see the strength women engendered among each other.

However, while a few of their aggressors have been prosecuted, these are just a handful. What of all the other abusers? They roam free.

Once all those women came out about what happened to them, how did they heal? How did they get justice, and how were they uplifted?

I would like to see a campaign that takes the #MeToo campaign into a space where there is action to help those women, much like these two new Cape campaigns. I am not sure what or how, but I would like to see more campaigns that are not just about speaking out, but about doing something worthwhile. You see, I believe that actions speak louder than words. Funny that, considering that words are the tools of my trade.

Here’s to active campaigns for good!

Shabbat Shalom!

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