Tuesday, July 28, 2020

White people must step up?!

It seems that racism is still alive and well in South Africa, but not where you would expect. I refer to the racist diatribe in Sunday's City Press entitled "White people must step up". It may be well written, but it is lazy, sloppy journalism nonetheless. I have had several responses to this and similar rants by other opinionated people in the past year, so I decided to write them down.
Option 1: Say what!? 

I get an allergic reaction to people who perpetuate Apartheid by insisting on talking about "white" people or "black" people like they are somehow a homogeneous group. They are not. This was a poisonous lie introduced by unscrupulous politicians in 1947 when the term Apartheid was first coined. Long before I was born. So don't blame me for the actions of others.
The absurdity of the notion can be demonstrated in the context of the article by asking: "Which White people?" Is Mondli referring to working class "white" people who got jobs on the mines like electricians, miners, fitters and turners, and so on? The ones who never really thought about how their appointment to a particlar job excluded everyone else from getting that job. Why would they? They were grateful to get a job after studying or doing an apprenticeship.
Or is Mondli referring to the "white" Mine Manager or the Mining Engineer or other "white" management positions on the mine that were in charge of day to day operations of the mine? People like my dad who started as a Shift Boss and eventually became the manager of Albion Colliery, a small mine on the highveld. The one who put out the fire on the waste coal dump, and reduced its sulphur pollution so that everyone who lived there could breathe cleaner air. The one who replaced wire fences corroded by the sulphuric acid pollution with precast concrete fences instead, and had all the dirt roads tarred to reduce the dust. The one who planted grass to reduce the dust in and around the works area. The one who got angry when safety rules were ignored and who had to appear before inquiries when workers got injured or killed. My dad was in no position to challenge the Apartheid laws that enforced a colour bar, but was able to give Cyril Ramaphosa's union permission to recruit members on the mine.
Maybe Mondli means the women on the mine, like my mother, who got involved in charity work in the area, and who did their best to improve the quality of life of the miners who were a long way from home by knitting jerseys and mending clothes. And teaching local women how to sew and do other things to supplement their income and regain their dignity.
Or is Mondli referring to the "white" directors of the mining company, who were excluded from membership of the Broederbond because they were English, but were somehow responsible for the Apartheid system anyway, even though they did their best to improve living conditions on the mines?
Perhaps Mondli means the "white" scientists like my grandfather whose research and advice to the Chamber of Mines helped cure scurvy (a painful condition caused by lack of vitamins) by making sure that the mineworkers from rural areas ate the right kind of food? Rural men refused to eat vegetables because it was "women's food" and would only eat meat and drink soghum beer. So my grandfather had the compound cooks chop up vegetables and put them in the stew, so that the miners got the vitamins they needed in spite of their prejudice.
Oh, wait, Mondli must be referring to me, the son of "white" mine manager who went to university on a Chamber of Mines bursary and was thus super-privileged and entitled. The one who refused to co-operate with the Apartheid regime's military conscription and who instead faced down the possibility of going to jail for 6 years rather than shoot at fellow South Africans in the townships. The one who shared a flat in Durban with a friend who refused to carry a rifle during his military conscription, and whose head was blown off in 1994 by white extremist terrorists who sent a bomb inside a computer at his place of work.
Which of these people are nominated to represent "the whites" Mondli? What racist criteria should we use? After all, their skin colour is more important that the quality of their character, isn't it? Their race is more important than their contribution to society, even when they were excluded from the corridors of power by the same white Broederbond members who held the reins of political power. Obviously.

Option 2: WTF are you anyway? 

Who are you to engage in raice baiting by calling out these so-called "white people" for what they did or didn't do? What sense of entitlement gives you the right to judge others in this way, making racist generalizations about what "whites" did or didn't do, or said or didn't say?
Your narrative creates a scenario that cannot possibly be met. All "white people" are damned if they do, and damned if they don't, because none of them can go back in time and do things differently to meet your unrealistic and ridiculous expectations. You expect "white people" to apologise and fix what they supposedly broke through four centuries of colonialism and 46 years of Apartheid policies. You forget that the "liberation struggle" demanded to be able to fix the problems through their own leaders, not through the racist rulers in charge at the time. You can't have it both ways.
Clearly you aren't very good at maths. It is now 26 years since the end of Apartheid. So the people who were in charge of the government in 1948 are all dead or in frail care. FW de Klerk is 84. PW Botha died 14 years ago. Pik Botha and Magnus Malan are also dead. So is Jan van Riebeeck, Cecil John Rhodes, Lord Kitchener, Paul Kruger, Jan Smuts, Henrik Verwoerd, BJ Vorster and a number of other racist villains. So it's going to be a bit tricky to get them to apologise or atone for their sins.
Most of the people in charge of big business from 1948 to 1994 are similarly unavailable to be held to account. Many of them appeared before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which you so casually dismiss. You claim that "white people" didn't follow what was going on. Well, I have news for you: they haven't followed the Zondo Commission or the Arms Deal Inquiry either. Most "white people" learned pretty early on that politics is a nasty game played by nasty dishonest crooks and lazy journalists, and they figured that there wasn't much to gain from all of the political theatrics done in their name.
You also conveniently sideline or minimise all the efforts of all the people who took a stand against Apartheid. From the well known heroes like Helen Joseph, Trevor Huddleston, Alan Paton and Helen Suzman, to the lesser known people from the Black Sash, churches and labour unions. Did they not step up? Obviously not.

Option 3: How many apologies are acceptable?

What feeds this rapacious appetite for a "white apology"? What sense of racist entitlement blinds people to the historically obvious: "white people" apologised for Apartheid before 1994, and celebrated its end alongside Mandela and other leaders during and after 1994.
Maybe you forgot about the 1983 Tricameral Parliament. "White people" were told by the cynical National Party leaders that this would be an extension of democracy to more people. Most accepted it at face value, and saw no reason why "coloureds" and "Indians" should not have a say in the laws that govern their lives. Two thirds of the "white voters" accepted the proposal. Some "white people" opposed it because it wasn't enough, and I recall joining comrades in the Natal Indian Congress in their call for a boycott of the elections. We celebrated together when the pathetic results came in.
Then there was the unbanning of the ANC and other liberation groups. If that wasn't an apology by the Apartheid regime, what was it? It was an admission that Apartheid was morally wrong and unworkable, and the start of a process of ending it without too much bloodshed or civil war. So not only did the "whites" admit that Apartheid was wrong, they took steps to end it in a peaceful manner.
The 1992 Referendum was the chance for "white people" to support the negotiation process and end Apartheid. Again, two thirds supported this process. Given the relentless propaganda by the SABC for the previous 4 decades, it was remarkable that only a third of "white" voters opposed it out of fear of the "communist threat". Why, Mondli, did you miss this clear and unambigious turning away from Apartheid and embracing the idea of a democratic society? Are you so blinkered by your racism that you can't see it for what it was? Didn't your colleagues at the Weekly Mail explain it to you?
During the CODESA negotiations, how many people did you interview who longed for the "good old days" of Apartheid, and weren't ready to move forward to a truly democratic South Africa with a modern Constitution and a Bill of Rights to protect the weak and the marginalised? I don't recall reading any articles about them either. Only the idiots from the AWB who were trying desperately to derail the inevitable, mainly because they were no longer relevant, and who were mocked by most "white people" for their pathetic propaganda.
Did you miss the euphoria in 1994 when "white people" finally got to stand in the same queue with "black people" and vote on the same ballot paper for the first time? What was unapologetic about that? Sure, they were worried about the future, but it was less bleak than the prospect of more Apartheid repression, strikes, boycotts and rioting. Many "white people" felt a profound sense of relief that they were no longer responsible for the running of the country, and could leave it up to the "democrats" and "liberators" who claimed to know what to do. These same people were shocked and aghast when the Arms Deal corruption was exposed, and when Thabo Mbeki lost his mind over how to deal with HIV.
An apology by itself means little. An apology followed by a change of heart and direction means a lot more. FW de Klerk didn't win the Nobel Peace Prize because he acknowledged that Apartheid was wrong and apologised. No, he won that prize because his susequent actions led to a peaceful transition from Apartheid repression to democratic rule for all. But that's not enough. The demand for apology will never end, because racists like Mondli cannot see the apology in front of their faces. Nor does he acknowledge the tectonic shift in thinking that it took to make those changes.
What must I make of his declaration: "What irks is that there is zero acknowledgment of the hurt and devastation that came with apartheid and colonialism"? Clearly Mondli wasn't listening. That acknowledgement was made 30 years ago when the "liberation movements" were unbanned and Mandela was released from jail. It was more than simple lip service: it was concrete action that resulted in democratic elections in 1994.
Why would "white people" on social media get wound up with the racist #BlackLivesMatter hashtag? What's wrong with #LivesMatter? We have a Marikana massacre every day and twice on Sundays on our roads, but nobody in the ANC government cares. We can have a Marikana massacre followed by a Marikana Commission but no one goes to jail. We can have a Life Esidimeni disaster and a Life Esidimeni Commission, but no one goes to jail. We have a Zondo Commission and mountains of evidence, but no court cases except for a few low grade officials in the Vrede dairy debacle. No one is in jail.
We have a week of activism around violence against women every year for the last quarter century, but still gender based violence is still a problem. #LivesMatter, except when they don't. Faint acknowledgement, but zero change. In spite of the ANC having a Women's League of some note, the ANC is mysoginistic and corrupt.

Option 4: Pointing the finger

When you point your finger at someone, three fingers point back at you. So what is it that Mondli really wants "white people" to "step up" to? If it's a simple matter of joining in the millions of words and hours of outrage on social media, then it's a pitiful demand. "White people complain about everything" according to the twittering classes. If it's not the arms deal or state capture, its about the cost of living, taxes or stupid politicians.
When the USA erupts every 4 years with the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag, or the #OccupyWallStreet hashtag, most South Africans watch from afar with bemusement. After all, we have a democratically elected "black" government who is in charge or everything, including the economy. BEE has seen to that, or so we are told. Those racists who prattle on about #WhiteMonopolyCapital are just being ridiculous, especially since the term was coined by an overpaid UK propaganda consultant, paid for by corrupt imigrant capitalists.
A lot of the ideas and ideologies floating around the heads of people at they Southern tip of Africa came from foreigners: capitalism, socialism, marxism, communism, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, human rights, industrial technology, the internet, and so on. So I smile when those "fallists" who want to "decolonize knowledge" at our universities, insist on keeping the racist ideas of Marx and Lenin, but want to throw out free speech and technology. Except they want to keep their smart phones. But I digress
"White people" are accused of not doing enough to rememdy the injustices of the past. Yet is this true, and how much is enough? Churches and other religious groups have been alleviating the plight of the poor and disadvantaged ever since missionaries arrived on our shores. They built schools, universities and hospitals long before the state did. They fought to keep their schools desegregated during Apartheid. They made soup kitchens, and set up refugee centres, libraries, published newspapers and books in local languages, and provided meeting venues for communities and political activists. Privileged, entitled commentators ignore all of this, because it isn't sexy or political. The socialists in their midst denounce the work of churches and missionaries, yet provide no alternatives of their own. Their excuse is that the state should do it, because they are too incompetent to do it themselves.
They also ignore the role that civil society has played over the decades, both before and after 1994. Anti-Apartheid groups like the Black Sash, the End Conscription Campaign, the South African Students Press Union, NUSAS and others are dismissed as racist minorities. How convenient. Mondli in particular loves to deride and dismiss the efforts of groups like AfriForum for the same reason, yet it is people like them who fill in potholes, repair street signs, and repaint road markings in neglected and dysfunctional rural towns, for the benefit of all. City Press has provided coverage of some of the work done by "white" farmers to provide agricultural training and support to aspirant "black" farmers. AfriForum has taken on court cases on behalf of some of these farmers to get the title deeds for their farms when dysfunctional government departments drag their heels in search of a bigger bribe. Yet in spite of the spotty coverage of this in City Press, its esteemed editor ignores them because it doesn't fit his racist narrative.
There are other things that City Press ignores. Farm murders being the most obvious. But what about the stories of all the "white people" who were forced to leave the country because of affirmative action and BEE? I'm not talking about immigrants who returned to their country of origin because life became less cushy here. I'm talking about people like my friend Jonathan who grew up here, whose father taught in the Education Department at Natal University, and who qualified as a male nurse and a Mechanical Engineer. He worked for hotels and hospitals as the on-site Engineer until he became "over-qualified" (i.e. too white) to be able to work anywhere in the country. Instead of being able to transfer his knowledge and skills to others, he was forced to move to New Zealand. Now he is building power plants that run on biogas, a skill that is sorely needed in this continent.
Why is it that the ANC government has enacted more racist legislation than it has abolished? Why is it that a quarter of a century after the end of Apartheid, that education and training institutions have to report the racial breakdown of their students and staff or lose their accreditation? What kind of sick ideological twist is that? The students they teach were never classified under the odious Population Registration Act, but are required to state their race, gender and nationality in order to register as a student. Their ID number no longer contains their race classification, but they have to state it anyway.
A few years ago I got fed up with all the "Social Justice Warriors" on Twitter ranting on about "white privilege", "white monopoly capital", colonialism and racism. So I started to ask them (especially the ones who tweet from their expensive iPhones) what they were doing with their own money to alleviate poverty and suffering. Were they putting their money where their mouths were? In general the answer was a deafening silence or being told to "mind your own business". In other words, nothing.
It confirmed what most beggars at the traffic lights will tell you: very few "black people", especially the ones in flashy expensive cars, give them money. Most of the time they just skip those cars and move on to the "white" occupants, even if the cars are obviously old and second hand.
Waitrons at restaurants will tell you the same thing: flashy "buppies" and "black" celebrities refuse to provide a tip, often with indignation. The more mean spirited ones will add in racist jibes like "I will pay you a tip when you return the land" to make sure that the working class waitrons "know their place" in the new pecking order. They are surprised and then outraged when the "racists" on social media got together to give a big tip to one particular waitress who had to endure such outrageous and insensitive behaviour.
Yet that doesn't fit Mondli's narrative: "What irks is that there is zero acknowledgment of the hurt and devastation that came with apartheid and colonialism". So my challenge to Mondli is simple: get off your backside and publish the stories of the "white people" who have "stepped up" to provide help and comfort to people in need. The feeding schemes who were forced to stop providing cooked meals by ridiculous lockdown regulations. Or the food parcels that had to be "inspected" by ANC officials at centralised locations. The "white" teachers who teach school children irrespecive of race. The "white people" who run NGOs that alleviate poverty, hunger and disease. The "white" farmers who support and assist their "black" collegues during drought and disaster.
Look around you for NGOs like "Partners for Possibility" that link up struggling schools with business leaders and others of goodwill. Or the "Small Enterprise Foundation" that helps rural women set up their own businesses. The farmers and business people in rural towns who have repaired dysfunctional water and sewerage systems because the theft and corruption of municipalities left people without water or services.
Those are the people who, without saying anything, get on with the job or building the nation and addressing the wrongs of the past. Stop being so wilfully blind of what is going on around you. Just because they don't issue press statements or hold press conferences with lavish lunches for you to attend, doesn't mean they don't do the work that needs to be done. And apologise to AfriForum for your racist nonsense. You'll find they are nice people who are busy building the nation, one town at a time.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Herd Immunity Sociopathy

Western Cape Cases and Deaths by Age
Medical people like to talk about "Herd Immunity" for the Coronavirus like it's the most natural thing, and some people are saying we should get the population to this level of infection as soon as possible, and then the COVID-19 epidemic will all be over. Personally, I think this is a diabolical notion.
Let's look at the numbers for South Africa for a moment. There are 58 million people, of which 1% of the population has TB, and 7% of the population has Diabetes. Children make up 34% of the total population. Two-thirds of children live in the poorest 40% of households.
This makes a complicated but dangerous mess, because so many people are sick or vulnerable. Social grants are paid to 11 million people. Mercifully, the number of cases so far is a fraction of a percent of the population.
But what happens when it gets to 1%? That would mean that 580,000 people test positive. Based on the Iceland numbers, 50% of those who tested positive have no recognized symptoms for COVD-19. So let's be optimistic and halve that number to 290,000 people who display enough symptoms to be regarded as a "case". 1% will have TB, and 7% will have Diabetes. Some will have both. We have no idea whether the ARV drugs used to treat HIV have any impact on the Coronavirus, so let's ignore the 7.7 million HIV patients for now. Let's say that 7.5% of the 290,000 people have TB and/or Diabetes, namely 21,750 people. They are all likely to need medical attention, probably a hospital visit. At the time of writing, 4.41% of resolved cases result in death. That's 959 of the 21,750 people. The worldwide statistic is 15%. I have not used the Case Fatality Rate (CFR) because it isn't accurate during an outbreak. The pessimist in me says that a lot more than 4% of these patients are going to die, given their vulnerability. If we assume the world average then 3,262 of them will die. In any case, of the 290,000 people (less 21,750) 11,830 people will die if the 4.41% figure remains constant. So with 1% of the population infected, somewhere between 12,789 and 15,092 people will die.
This is where things start getting tricky. The required infection rate for "herd immunity" is 80% of the population should be infected, assuming that herd immunity actually works. So to get there we can expect between 1,023,120 and 1,207,360 people will have to die. That was obtained by multiplying the 1% death toll by 80. Frankly that's a catastrophic number. So what if we assume that a tiny fraction of the children die, and therefore we can multiply the 80% by (1-0.34) to allow for 34% of the population being children. We multiply the death toll by 52.8 instead of 80. So now the death toll is between a trifling 675,259 and a mere 796,857 (average 736,058) which is more than the population of the city of Bloemfontein (556,000 to 747,431).
Based on the discussions I have had with a few of the herd immunity advocates, they reckon "those people would have died anyway". What!? We have 9.1 deaths per 1000 population each year, or 527,800 per year on average, from all causes, including road deaths, suicide, homicide, old age, disease and industrial accidents.

Accidents, homicides, suicides and external causes account for roughly 10% of the deaths each year, but what percentage of the other causes of death are accelerated by the extra COVID-19 fatalities? Your guess is as good as mine, but there will be a lot of extra dead bodies. Since I used 15% for the TB and Diabetes group, let's use that for all the groups. Its as good as any other guess. That would mean that we would have an additional 670,000 deaths, and the "rest would have died anyway".
Note that I have not mentioned any of the "hard lockdown" methods to "flatten the curve" in this discussion. That is for another blog entry.

Replacing Herd Immunity

There is no herd immunity for flu, as far as I understand it. We have a vaccine every year that is different every year, based on the strains of flu from the previous few years. It doesn't confer immunity to any of the newer strains of flu, whether they are Corona viruses or other types. Similarly the Spanish Flu was more deadly in the second wave than the first, even affecting those who survived the first wave. So there is not much hope that herd immunity will do anything in the long term, other than kill off 670,000 people. So let's consider a different way of fending off the infections, written by David Ewing Duncan on 8th May:
It sounds too good to be true. But a compelling new study and computer model provide fresh evidence for a simple solution to help us emerge from this nightmarish lockdown. The formula? Always social distance in public and, most importantly, wear a mask.
If you’re wondering whether to wear or not to wear, consider this. The day before yesterday [6th May 2020], 21 people died of COVID-19 in Japan. In the United States, 2,129 died. Comparing overall death rates for the two countries offers an even starker point of comparison with total U.S. deaths now at a staggering 76,032 and Japan’s fatalities at 577. Japan’s population is about 38% of the U.S., but even adjusting for population, the Japanese death rate is a mere 2% of America’s.
This comes despite Japan having no lockdown, still-active subways, and many businesses that have remained open—reportedly including karaoke bars, although Japanese citizens and industries are practicing social distancing where they can. Nor have the Japanese broadly embraced contact tracing, a practice by which health authorities identify someone who has been infected and then attempt to identify everyone that person might have interacted with—and potentially infected. So how does Japan do it?
“One reason is that nearly everyone there is wearing a mask,” said De Kai, an American computer scientist with joint appointments at UC Berkeley’s International Computer Science Institute and at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He is also the chief architect of an in-depth study, set to be released in the coming days, that suggests that every one of us should be wearing a mask—whether surgical or homemade, scarf or bandana—like they do in Japan and other countries, mostly in East Asia. This formula applies to President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence (occasional mask refuseniks) as well as every other official who routinely interacts with people in public settings. Among the findings of their research paper, which the team plans to submit to a major journal: If 80% of a closed population were to don a mask, COVID-19 infection rates would statistically drop to approximately one twelfth the number of infections—compared to a live-virus population in which no one wore masks.
The mask debate, of course, has been raging for weeks in the States and globally. Pro-maskers assert that the widespread use of face coverings can diminish the spread of COVID-19. Some anti-maskers, including various politicians and public health officials, have insisted that there is no proof of the efficacy of face guards. According to some activists, a blanket mask mandate places a limit on individual liberty and even one’s right to free speech. (Pro-mask advocates are fighting back with #masks4all and #wearafuckingmask Twitter campaigns).
Representatives of the World Health Organization have also been sounding rather anti-mask, fretting that many people won’t wear masks properly, thereby risking infection, or that masks will give people a false sense of security and encourage risky behavior, such as partying up close and personal—none of which seems to have played out, as far as we know, in Japan or Hong Kong or other mask-wearing places. Adding to the brouhaha has been the shortage of medical masks for doctors, nurses, bus drivers, and the guy who delivers burritos to your door.
The muddle over masks is what drove Berkeley’s De Kai to drop everything two months ago and help convene an ad hoc team of scientists and academics: a physician from London, a bioinformaticist from Cambridge, an economist from Paris, and a sociologist and population-dynamics expert from Finland.
“I felt like this was pretty urgent,” said De Kai, who was born in St. Louis, and is the son of immigrants from China. “I saw the country where I grew up, where my family lives [now mostly in the Bay Area], about to face this pandemic without knowing much about something as simple as wearing a mask to protect themselves and others.” In part, this comes from a cultural difference between East Asia, where masks have been routinely worn for decades to fend off pollution and germs, and other parts of the world. This includes the U.S., where people are unaccustomed to wearing masks, and, in the past, have sometimes been insensitive, even stigmatizing East Asians, many of whom had chosen to wear them in public prior to the pandemic, and had continued the practice in the aftermath of the SARS and MERS outbreaks. (In part, this habit was meant to show other people that they were concerned about transmitting the disease—something we in the West would do well to emulate.)
De Kai’s solution, along with his team, was to build a computer forecasting model they call the masksim simulator. This allowed them to create scenarios of populations like those in Japan (that generally wear masks) and others (that generally don’t), and to compare what happens to infection rates over time. Masksim takes sophisticated programming used by epidemiologists to track outbreaks and pathogens like COVID-19, Ebola, and SARS, and blended this with other models that are used in artificial intelligence to take into account the role of chance, in this case the randomness and unpredictability, of human behavior—for instance, when a person who is infected decides to go to a beach. De Kai’s team have also added some original programming that takes into account mask-specific criteria, such as how effective certain masks are at blocking the invisible micro-droplets of moisture that spray out of our mouths when we exhale or speak, or our noses when we sneeze, which scientists believe are significant vectors for spreading the coronavirus.
Along with the masksim site, the team is also releasing a study that describes their model in detail as well as their contention that masksim’s forecasts support a growing body of pro-mask evidence. “What’s most important about wearing masks right now,” said Guy-Philippe Goldstein, an economist, cybersecurity expert, and lecturer at the Ecole de Guerre Economique in Paris—and a masksim collaborator, “is that it works, along with social distancing, to flatten the curve of infections as we wait for treatments and vaccines to be developed—while also allowing people to go out and some businesses to reopen.”
While all models have limitations and are only as good as their assumptions, this one is “a very thorough model and well done,” said William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University, who reviewed the De Kai team’s paper. “It supports a notion that I advocate along with most other infectious disease experts: that masks are very, very important.” Jeremy Howard, founding researcher at fast.ai and a distinguished research scientist at the University of San Francisco, also assessed the paper. “It’s almost overkill how careful they were with this modeling,” said Howard, who also coauthored and spearheaded a study last month (recently submitted to the journal PNAS) that reviewed dozens of papers assessing the effectiveness of masks.
During a screen-share Zoom from his home office in Hong Kong, De Kai, who has not had to shelter in place (“because nearly everyone in here wears masks”), explained to me how the model works.

So instead of killing 670,000 people all we need to do is get 80% of the population to wear a mask. Simple, but not easy. You would have thought everyone would buy into this model, given the alternative. But the people I engaged with seem to think that wearing masks is as bad as, if not worse than, the hard lockdown we have experienced in South Africa.
I can't find any logic to back up this claim, or any scientific evidence either. There are plenty of wild theories about how the data is being manipulated and how the testing isn't being done right. I have tried to accommodate some of these theories in the way I arrived at the number of dead people, but they refuse to listen. Anyone would think they were sociopaths. I think they are just out of touch with the meaning of big numbers. Or they are so fixed in their position that no amount of new information will change their minds.

Update Friday 15 May: There are a total of 3,000 ICU beds in private and public hospitals. The President mentioned an additional 25,000 beds have been added, but not ICU level of care. If every death came out of ICU, then the ICU would be 223 times over-subscribed if they all happened at once. Assuming an ICU patient dies after 1 week, we cannot have more than 428 people dying every day in ICU (3,000 divided by 7). Unless the "herd immunity" took over 4 years to be achieved, the hospitals would be swamped. Any way you look at it is disastrous.
Another argument I keep seeing (usually by the same people who think herd immunity is a good idea) is that CV is "no worse than the flu". Roughly 5% of the deaths every year in South Africa are diagnosed as flu and/or pneumonia, which would mean that 26,390 people die of flu or pneumonia. Of course that compares quite well (25x) with 670,000 deaths. And that's including all the pneumonia deaths as well. In the USA, the ratio of flu deaths to pneumonia deaths is 1:13.
Let's recalculate the deaths assuming that the 4.41% death rate is too high, because of inadequate testing, so the number of "resolved cases" is in fact higher. That would mean that symptomatic people who recovered were never tested or treated. We have already accounted for asymptomatic cases. Also, let's assume that the doctors are getting better at treatment, and that by early use of Hydroxychloroquine, Azythromycin and Zinc they save additional lives. Let's assume only 7.5% of the TB and Diabetes patients die, and the death rate for the rest is 2% instead of 4.41%. And the CV only impacts 7.5% of the total deaths. Total additional deaths is 195,315. If you think that is OK then you think that all the road deaths for the last 8 years combined is an acceptable number too. I can't help you.

Update Monday 1 June: Of course there are some people who think it is fashionable to be controversial and mock or discourage people from wearing face masks, without giving the implications much serious thought. Here is a classic example:
Tasteless in my opinion. Especially given the selfishness it demonstrates. I guess younger people feel invincible, even though they spread the disease even more so than older people.

26-Mar-2020: According to SA government regulations, all Internet sites operating within .za top level domain name must have a landing page with a visible link to www.sacoronavirus.co.za.

Warning: The NSA and 4 million other sick weirdos with "security clearance" have intercepted this page and know that you are reading it.