Poignant memorial service for slain journalist

2009-10-29 06:50

IT was a beautiful morning.

In an intimate little garden in the heart of Johannesburg it seemed

as if the hustle and bustle of everyday life had just stood still for a few


A mild breeze rustled the leaves on the trees. The sun played

hide-and-seek among the clouds. Dappled shadows fell over the faces of those


Here we were cocooned, even from the constant grinding noise of

traffic on one of Joburg’s busiest roads.

But in this tranquil oasis all was not well.

A picture of a smiling-eyed woman was stuck to the bark of a tree.

She was the reason we were here.

Friends greeted one another, loved ones hugged, colleagues who had

not seen each other in years wiped the tears off each other’s faces.

Dammit, we should not have been here today, at least not for the

purpose we were gathered for.

We should have been gathered to celebrate a life – a life full of

possibility. Not mourning the loss of that life taken so brutally, so


We should not have been here to talk about what could have been,

what should have been, what would have been.

We should not have been at a memorial service for a lovely

29-year-old woman, murdered by a man who said he loved her.

For as speaker after speaker told about Shadi Rapitso – the

wonderful person, friend, daughter, journalist, woman she was – it was clear she

was destined for greatness.

As a prayer was said for her family I wondered if the monster who

took her away from her loved ones, was even thinking of her, mourning her,

hating himself for what he did.

The man is still in hospital, he had stabbed himself after killing

Shadi. He is under police guard in an undisclosed hospital. He has been charged

with murder.

He had allegedly dragged Shadi from her flat into his, held her

hostage before stabbing her fatally, in her neck, last Friday.

Shadi’s uncle, Steve said that it felt like something had pierced

his heart, like something he had never felt before, when he was told that she

had been murdered.

It’s a feeling that too many of South Africans can relate too – too

many people taken away from loved ones through senseless crimes such as that

committed against Shadi.

Shadi will be buried in Mabopane on Saturday morning.

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