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We talk a lot in this country about public service, especially its absence. Those who captured the state did so in disguise: wearing the attire of public service. So you can forgive us for being fairly cynical, for thinking public service is all just subterfuge, a ruse by which enrichment of a few, not service to the greater public, is pursued.

Holding that view would, however, be to ignore how truly exceptional many of SA’s public servants are. One of those was Babita Deokaran, chief director of financial accounting in the Gauteng health department. Her courageous service seems to have required that she pay the ultimate price: on Monday morning she was gunned down outside her home in Johannesburg on returning from dropping her daughter off at school...

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