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By Kyle Zeeman

Digital News Editor

A VIEW OF THE WEEK: SA is alive with possibilities … and fakes

Some have never quite outgrown playing pretend.

“Look daddy, I’m flying a kite,” my three year old announced, clenching his fist in the air like a dedicated freedom fighter.

It didn’t take a pair of Walter Sisulu’s glasses to see there was nothing in hand. He was simply letting his imagination run wild. And he is one of more than 62 million South Africans, as revealed in this week’s Census announcement, to do so.

I, like millions of parents before and after me, will tell my child he can be anything he wants to be. I will also tell him education is important, and to not be a k*k person.

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I hope he listens. Not like the infestation of influencers who think a phone, ring light and motivation story is equivalent to multiple years of hard studies and learning.

TikTok “doctor” Matthew Lani was this week exposed as a fraud by Wits University and the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). The man who claimed to be the “youngest” doctor to own a “pharmaceutical company in South Africa” suddenly faces criminal charges.

A few days later, the University of Limpopo distanced itself from Nthabiseng Ramokolo, who allegedly masqueraded as a healthcare worker online.

Across the sea, Dalya Karezi appeared in an Australian court for pretending to be a medical expert on TikTok and Instagram without a qualification. She pleaded guilty.

The mantra “Fake it till you make it”, may be useful advice for many situations, but it should never come at the expense of people’s health and wellbeing.

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Another pretender, convicted rapist and prison breaker Thabo Bester, made his latest stop at the Bloemfontein Magistrates Court this week. Bester, we learnt a few months ago, didn’t have an identity so he pretended to be whatever he wanted. He faked being a successful businessman. He got so good at pretending, he eventually pretended he was dead.

Around the same time as his appearance, Fordsburg business owners were making mafia-style TikTok videos threatening to shut down the area because of pretenders who were extorting them and threatening to call law enforcement and immigrant officials to search the area.

Such extortion is found throughout the country, with the City of Cape Town revealing on Thursday it had lost R110m in human settlement project works to extortion.

ALSO READ: A VIEW OF THE WEEK: Government has mastered the illusion of being ‘too busy’ – and so have you

When these extortionists and imposters are caught, police often play their own version of pretend. Pretend to not see it. Pretend to investigate. Pretend to be busy. Pretend to care. And so the facade is never exposed and the circus continues.

We pretend and fall for pretenders because it is often worth the risk. There is no accountability and law enforcement is largely toothless.

This lack of accountability has government falling for pretences’ delusion cousin: wishful thinking. They wish for, and pretend to live in, a world where infrastructure doesn’t need to be maintained, and where there doesn’t need to be a plan for the future.

Some have never quite outgrown playing pretend.

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