Fasten your seatbelts, this is Thuli’s flight of fancy with SAA

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Fasten your seatbelts, this is Thuli’s flight of fancy with SAA

This isn’t the first time we’ve been told flying SAA is our civic duty, but it was startling to see it coming from her

Columnist
Thuli Madonsela says she chooses to fly SAA out of 'self-love'.
In fool flight? Thuli Madonsela says she chooses to fly SAA out of 'self-love'.
Image: Getty Images

Just when the collapse of SAA couldn’t get stranger it’s time to return to your seat, fasten your seatbelt and bounce over one of the more peculiar bits of turbulence the whole fiasco has thrown into our path.

On Wednesday afternoon, Biznews’s Alec Hogg posted a picture on Twitter, sent to him by a reader who had taken it the night before on an SAA flight to London, showing empty rows of seats marching away into the distance. “He says Economy was virtually empty, estimates only 15 passengers,” added Hogg.

Now, there are some very logical reasons the aircraft might have been so empty.

It is almost February, which means the only people travelling from SA to the UK are members of the Barmy Army being deported for peeing in the Porta Pool at the cricket, or South Africans with a deep yearning to sit in a suffocatingly hot room as they gaze out at brown slush under grey skies.

Arriving in London on a Wednesday morning is also a terrible waste of time as you’ll have to kill three full days before any of your friends or acquaintances are released from their office jobs in Slough and use their week’s wages to come and visit you in the broom cupboard you rented through Airbnb.

Mostly, however, I can’t imagine that many South Africans have R20,000 lying around that they’re willing to gamble on getting to London and back before SAA folds.

Which is why, when I saw Hogg’s tweet commented on by none other than Thuli Madonsela, and saw that she began her comment by saying “How sad”, I assumed that she was about to point out the bleedingly obvious fact that the airline is, in fact, burnt toast.

But I was very wrong. Because what the former public protector actually tweeted, was this.

“How sad that many fellow South Africans don’t buy into the ecosystem approach of putting their own first. For me SAA is my first choice as an extension of self love in addition to the fact that it’s the best in every way.”

Well damn. Time to suspend the drinks service and secure the overhead lockers, because things just got inexplicably bumpy.

Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve been told that flying on SAA is our civic duty: Pravin Gordhan was already trying out that ridiculous line last year. But it was startling to see it coming from a respected legal mind, academic, and someone who used to, you know, protect the public.

Indeed, I feel extremely ill-equipped to argue with Prof Madonsela about anything at all. And yet I have to insist, with respect, that many South Africans have, in fact, bought into a system of putting their own first. They just don’t call it the “ecosystem approach”, preferring the much simpler “ANC”.

As for practising self-love, well, I’m sure Prof Madonsela would agree with me that we all have the right to practise it in any way we choose. For example, some practise self-love by flying on SAA. Some practise it by stealing from taxpayers, wrecking an airline, and then demanding more money from taxpayers to keep said airline in the air. And some practise self-love by telling said airline and its criminally incompetent owners to go and get well stuffed.

Some people might even believe that it is a form of self-love – and love of country – to boycott SAA entirely; to refuse to support a parasitic omnishambles that is taking from the poor in order to fly empty planes around the planet in a display as vain and hollow as waving vast white codpieces around and hoping someone will be impressed.

But of course, that’s just me. If flying on SAA is how you choose to practise self-love, then follow your bliss. Just make sure you have a Plan B for getting home.