OP-ED Opinions 

News24.com | Condolences to the families of 15 murdered South Africans who did not get a message from Ramaphosa

2019-06-18 06:59

Surely the Presidency has the capacity to collate the names of all those murdered from the police and issue collective condolences on a weekly basis, writes Adriaan Basson.

How does
President Cyril Ramaphosa decide which grieving families he should send a
message of condolence to after a death or a murder?

It struck me
this week, as I read a media statement issued by his office after the death of
a South African, that the president inadvertently signals which deaths are more
deserving of a statement than others when offering his condolences, or not.

It goes
without saying that the death of any person is a tragedy and a loss to the
family involved. It would be ridiculous to expect Ramaphosa to sympathise with
every South African family that loses a mother, father, sister or son. He would
have no time left to do anything else.

But what
about the murders? South Africa’s murder rate is only topped by that of
Venezuela, Brazil, Mexico and Colombia.

I accept
that we have just too much crime for Ramaphosa to sympathise with every victim
of rape, assault, robbery or theft. But murder is a particularly brutal crime,
right? It is also the category of crime for which it is difficult to cook the

You cannot
hide a dead body.

I have no
doubt that Ramaphosa abhors every single murder committed in South Africa every
day – all 57 of them, on average. The last set of crime statistics that were
released for 2017/18 showed that 20 336 people were murdered last year.

Doesn’t each
of these grieving families deserve at least a mention of their loved one’s name
in a statement on the Presidency’s website? Surely the Presidency has the
capacity to collate the names of all those murdered from the police and issue
collective condolences on a weekly basis?

I ask myself
a similar question frequently. How does News24 cover crime “equitably” and make sure our readers are well informed of the
scourge that terrorises South Africans from all walks of life in cities and
towns, in rural areas and on farms?

We rely on
the police and the public to inform us when a crime has happened, but the
police has for years actively discouraged its communicators to provide details
of crimes at station level, which means communication is centralised and can
easily be sanitised.

Often, I
feel defeated, knowing that we are not even covering 10% of all the crimes that
South Africans suffer daily.

On Thursday
Ramaphosa will address the nation and hopefully elaborate on new crime-fighting
efforts to curb our intolerable crime rate, including the warzone that is the
Cape Flats. Any extra efforts should be applauded, but maybe Ramaphosa can
start by recognising the names of every murdered South African, like the
following 15 victims whose families did not receive a statement from the
president’s office in the past two weeks:

·       Bernard Groenewald, a truck driver
from Paarl, died after his truck was petrol-bombed near Touws River;

·       Constable Thandiwe Mavaneni, a
policewoman from Hammarsdale, was shot dead by her boyfriend;

·       Stefan Smit, a farmer from
Stellenbosch, was gunned down in his house;

·       Felies Sithembile, a 15-year-old
pupil from Brits, was stabbed to death by another boy;

·       Helga van Wyk, a teacher from
Durbanville in Cape Town, was stabbed to death by an intruder;

·       Sonwabo Nquma and Nomvuyo Nelson from
Bethelsdorp, outside Port Elizabeth, were brutally murdered in their house;

·       Jolandre Tolli, a 16-year-old girl
from Douglas whose throat was slit after visiting a local tavern;

·       Constable Alfred Mathabatha, from
Tubatse in Limpopo, was shot dead by hijackers near Ohrigstad;

·       Bulelani Baushana from New Brighton
in Port Elizabeth was shot dead outside a friend’s house in an apparent hit;

·       Anele Ngcoko was shot in the head in
Port Elizabeth while talking to friends at a car;

·       Mike Chimombe, a Zimbabwean trained
journalist who worked as a taxi driver in Cape Town, was shot dead in Delft on
the Cape Flats;

·       Luvuyo Manyathela, a 17-year-old from
KTC in Gugulethu, was gunned down by a rival gang after having supper with his

·       Moolman Meyer, a farmer from Ermelo,
was hacked to death with a panga on his farm;

·       Trevor Pieters, a 17-year-old boy
from Delft, was shot dead by gangsters after visiting a shop.

– Basson is the editor-in-chief of News24.

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