My colleagues and I often care for patients suffering from hallucinations, prophesying, and claiming to speak with God, among other symptoms—in mental health care, it’s sometimes very difficult to tell apart religious belief from mental illness…. Our conclusions frequently stem from the behaviors we see before us. Take an example of a man who walks into an emergency department, mumbling incoherently. He says he’s hearing voices in his head, but insists there’s nothing wrong with him. He hasn’t used any drugs or alcohol. If he were to be evaluated by mental health professionals, there’s a good chance he might be diagnosed with a psychotic disorder like schizophrenia. But what if that same man were deeply religious? What if his incomprehensible language was speaking in tongues?
This is President Jacob Zuma ‘s strange republic at work, a place where politics trumps principle, the reputations of the state and its officers are of little account and where no price is too high to pay for the re-election of Mr Zuma as head of his party this year and of the country in 2014. Is the president laughing at us? The police force leadership is in tatters as his man, Lt-Gen Mdluli, acquires new powers at a dizzying speed — one day it is control over VIP protection (all the police who guard ministers and can thus tell him who they’ve been seeing), the next he becomes the only policeman in the land able to sanction a wire tap. – Business Day editorialBACK TO TOP