The excitement is palpable in the air. The malls are packed from early morning, traffic is flowing steadily out of towns and villages and the bus ranks and train stations are a cornucopia of activity.
Christmas is around the corner and as happens every year, the country is entering that mass celebratory mood as everyone moves to make the most of the much-needed downtime.
It is very easy under such circumstances for people to let their guards down and pay the price. In fact, it is a tragic peculiarity of humanness, that lingering great sorrow or danger always underlies great joy.
This is never so clear as when parties to a wedding perish to or from the joyous occasion, or when tourists die undertaking one activity or another.
Both those examples underscore how critical it is that even as we celebrate, even as we let our guards down and relax, even as we of necessity believe our fellow humans are equally jubilant, great sorrow or danger is lurking nearby.
Traditionally, December is riddled with all manner of road vehicle accidents, crime and incidents of merrymaking gone wrong.
Incidents of violence, rape and theft involving people at or coming from bars, entertainment areas, music festivals and other high-risk events, are common. With the relaxed alcohol trading hours and prices for the first time in ten years, expect the scale of these troubles to jump this season.
And the party spoilers are not limited to crime and alcohol-related incidents alone. As
The Health Ministry warns about the dangers of poor food preparation and handling, the importance of cooking food thoroughly and storing it appropriately and the care to be taken around water consumption.
Meanwhile, at the Trade Ministry, authorities there warn festive shoppers to be wary of rand pricing, differences between shelf price and till price, expiry dates and the state of products being bought.
The spectrum of threats is far wider than this, but the general principle applies across it. It is critical that we all maintain our vigilance and natural scepticism over and beyond the festive season, to reduce the chances of being attacked, scammed or falling into perilous situations.
There is a tendency to overly rely on the police for situations in which an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure. Self-policing, whether with our health, our families or our possessions, begins with each individual making a decision to temper their joy with reason.
“Taking personal accountability is a beautiful thing because it gives us complete control of our destinies.”
- Heather Schuck