July is a month in which we think back on the legacy of the father of our nation, Nelson Mandela. It is a month in which we focus on solidarity and inclusion, and the coronavirus pandemic makes this an appropriate chance to also honour our selfless and dedicated heroes and heroines.
South Africa has no shortage of brave men and women who have continued giving their best since COVID-19 arrived, under very trying circumstances. These police officers, soldiers, doctors and nurses, and armed response officers have been on patrol and at their posts, to keep us safe and healthy.
There are easy ways in which to honour these heroes which involves changing how we live our lives each day, and by looking after our fellow citizens. We can start by focusing on how we behave ourselves. In the case of police officers and law enforcement agencies, we can make their jobs a lot easier by being aware of our surroundings and remaining vigilant. If you see something suspicious in your suburb, don’t keep quiet. Share information about crimes and criminals with the appropriate agency so that they can respond.
We can also honour our healthcare workers by taking personal responsibility for our health and by adhering to any pandemic-related health advisories, so that we put less pressure on our healthcare network.
Community solidarity and caring for our neighbours should also be on the list. We have seen examples all over the country where suburbs have become generally safer when communities look after each other and stand together in the fight against crime. This ‘team work’ approach can take many shapes and sizes – from formalised neighbourhood watch groups, all the way to WhatsApp messaging groups where people in a single street keep in contact with each other.
Mandela Month this year will clearly be different, but we can still honour Madiba’s legacy by honouring our heroes through our behaviour and support.