“The deceased was found next to Spar with a gunshot wound.”
“A dead body at Gandhi Hospital, deceased had gunshot wound to his back and buttocks.”
It is one thing to determine that so many were killed, but another to hunt and ensure the successful prosecution of the suspects. A year later, the families and the nation await justice. Who killed 237 people in a few days in July last year? Why are they still roaming the streets? Is there hope police minister Bheki Cele and his troopers are on top of the situation?
An expert panel appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa to look into the killings concluded early this year that the police and intelligence structures failed to anticipate or even adjust their methods of controlling rowdy crowds during looting. There was no sufficient crowd-control equipment and police were overwhelmed.
It seems to us, at least through their inaction, that they remain overwhelmed a year on.
While a few so-called instigators have been arrested and others have had their cases withdrawn, no specific individual has been arrested for the specific murders of the 237. That a year has passed on without any progress report by the police gives us no hope.
The question today though is whether South Africans believe our securocrats have learnt and equipped themselves to anticipate and, importantly, counter any planned riots. Were riots to start, would our police be capable of responding in ways that could save lives, property and jobs lost in the mayhem of last year?
The police say they have learnt their lessons. We have no way of knowing for sure until they’re put to the test — though we hope no such tests materialise. Our country lost much more than lives last year. Many lost their livelihoods: the jobs, businesses, convenience, sense of security and much more.
Our government is yet to account for the damage. The cabinet reshuffle by Ramaphosa weeks after the riots appeared designed to pacify a nation seething with anger but writhing in pain. The reshuffle helped avoid political accountability.
Our police, defence force and intelligence services have yet to hold anyone accountable. We must be the only country on earth where 237 lives could simply perish and no-one is held accountable. This not only tells us about the incompetence of those in charge, but also how cheap our leaders think our lives are. There’s no greater shame.