Adriaan Basson

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

2019-06-18 06:59
(Photo: Getty/Gallo Images)

(Photo: Getty/Gallo Images)

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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 numbers.

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 family.

·       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.

Read more on:    cyril rama­phosa  |  murder
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