'Because things don’t appear to be the known thing; they aren’t that which they seemed to be, neither will they become that which they might appear to become.'
|At the graveside, Middelplaas, South Africa|
A burial at Middelplaas, near the village of De Rust, in South Africa. A large crowd gathered around a grave, to pay their last respects to Sanna. Her husband, Andries, stood almost unnoticed at the back of the crowd, grief-stricken. From the other side of the grave, I took this photo over mourners' heads.
A nurse at the local clinic in De Rust had been negligent in ordering Sanna's medication. Sanna was furious. She said that she would travel to Oudtshoorn – the nearest big centre – to fetch it. But too late. Without her medication, she died in the night, at 50. A doctor, said Andries, had said that he would take the nurse to task.
Assuming Sanna's death to be what it seems, is the nurse responsible for failing to control stock, or is she responsible for a woman's death? If a burglar invades a home, is he responsible for items taken, or for rending the fabric of society? If a man kills a rhino, is he responsible for its replacement cost, or for obliterating a species? Should one judge a deed on what one sees in front of one, or on its widest implications?
The nurse in De Rust did not witness this scene at the graveside – nor anything surrounding it, before or after. What would she have replied, if she had?