The social-media stoning of Kelly Khumalo

2014-11-03 18:45

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When a national hero dies, we look for answers. When we don’t find any that meet our satisfaction, we create our own version of the truth.

In mourning, we all need a place to put our emotions. In this instance, that place is Kelly Khumalo.

As the mistress, the side chick, she’s the convenient punching bag on social media.

Kelly is your archetypal “wicked woman”, the “loose” woman society can’t stand and who will always be judged for the list of her lovers rather than her work or actual worth, as this post suggests: “Kelly Khumalo dated: Prosper … in a wheelchair now. Jub Jub … in jail now. Senzo meyiwa … no more. But that’s none of my business.”

She’s the temptress who lured their hero to his death (according to some people’s tweets): “@Kelly_Khumalo Yiu see what messing in someone’s marriage does; you should be stoned, you adulterous witch.”

The unleashing of anger on Kelly, a grieving mother and lover, makes the whole saga that much sadder.

Kelly Khumalo at her mother’s house in Vosloorus. Picture: Felix Dlangamandla

This slut-shaming helps no one, neither the dead nor the grieving – and not even Meyiwa’s wronged wife, Mandisa.

I also think it’s offensive to him and the choices that he – Senzo Meyiwa – made for himself. They were all in this three-way love affair together and he, Kelly and Mandisa are responsible for the choices they made as adults.

We’re all at a loss for reasons to explain a death as senseless as that of Meyiwa’s. He was a great talent, too young to die. And from the accounts of those who really knew and loved him, he was a stand-up guy with a positive energy.

Many of those who admired him, and followed and encouraged his career, were expecting great achievements from him.

I was moved to tears watching a tribute show on TV’s SoccerZone last week.

An Orlando Pirates fan Meyiwa interacted with regularly from his years as a “benchwarmer” to his current position as captain spoke about how she had encouraged him in developing his career and how he helped her to build her house.

He gave her money to buy the window frames and she broke down as she explained that he had said he wanted her to think of him when she looked out of her windows.

He was returning the favour, helping her for supporting him as he built his career.

We’re held together only by our raw emotions in the absence of definitive answers for this murder.

There is a blanket of sorrow enveloping the country this week.

It is the kind of grief that makes us buckle at the knees as we hear that Meyiwa’s mother had to be hospitalised on hearing about her son’s death.

Of course, we want to see justice in the wake of his death. This is murder, but until proven otherwise, Kelly is a bystander in a criminal case, a victim traumatised by the tragic events that took place in her home, including having to drive a man she loved, dying, to hospital.

Some of us are abandoning our compassion to assuage our own grief. Kelly is not our dumping ground.

If this is a botched robbery, as the police suggest, we’re faced with the reality that this is yet another pointless death, like the crimes we have on loop.

It is the same inexplicable tragedy of a child dragged to his death during a hijacking, or the murder of a reggae legend, or the two toddlers raped, strangled and dumped in a toilet.

While we seek the answers to these meaningless acts of violence, let’s not look for scapegoats. We should be asking why these murders keep happening.

Why so many young men are quick to kill for a cellphone, rape women young and old, or turn a hijacking into a blood bath. And we should be wondering if this is ever going to stop.

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