Barely a week of reaching the finale of the Oscar Pistorius trial that had captured global attention, another tragedy has befallen our country’s sporting fraternity. The captain of our national football team, Senzo Meyiwa was killed on 26 October 2014 during a house burglary.
The Pistorius and Meyiwa stories bear interesting parallels. They both involve young talented national sporting icons. There is gun violence and alleged burglary. Both cases divert our attention from the root problems and focuses on the sensational hypes. The men’s burgeoning sporting careers get cut short and in both cases women are victimized in more ways than one.
In the Pistorius case, Reeva Steenkamp suffers a gruesome death. With Meyiwa’s case, his girlfriend Kelly Khumalo is vilified as the antagonist and blasted with “social media bullets.” Meyiwa’s spouse, Mandisa does not escape unscathed either; accusatory tongues and fingers are being pointed at her too.
Police report that Meyiwa was shot dead by a man during a house burglary. The man then ran way with his male accomplices. Yet instead of directing our anger and attention on tracing these criminals, we have turned the two women in Meyiwa’s life as main persons of interest typical of detective and soap opera shows. One woman is described in derogative terms and cited as a reason this death happened. The other woman is hinted as possibly having hired the “hit men”. Somehow we have managed to turn Mandisa and Kelly who are both left traumatised by this horrific loss, as potential suspects. This reflects our dangerous and regressive attitudes towards women.
Whereas people are entitled to their opinion and indeed this is also an opinion, I also believe that social media commentaries to trending headlines reveal a lot about our underlying views and beliefs. Thus looking at the dominant views and tone expressed by people via Facebook and Twitter, it is clear that wether a woman is cowering behind a locked bathroom or sitting in the safety of her own home, there is no escape from some form of ‘bullets’.
Once again, we are letting the men off the hook. When we can’t catch criminals or hold our men accountable, we target our witch-hunting exercises against women. It is exactly in this kind of environment that crime and violence against women breeds and thrives.Pistorius got off on account of alleged burglary fears. Meyiwa’s house burglars and killers are in hiding and Meyiwa himself is being absolved as a key player in this open love-triangle. Kelly is being left to bite the bullet.
Whereas Meyiwa’s private life headlines makes for juicy gossip and colourful opinions; there is nothing new or surprising about it other than the fact that it involves celebrities. What is tragic is the cost of violence to families and our country. We lost legends like Lucky Dube to gun violence too. Who will be next?
Now imagine how much we could contribute to cleaning our communities of criminal acts if we pooled our collective talent for making speculations and use them as investigative tools to trace and identify the real culprits. Criminals don’t dwell in dark holes, they live in our houses and communities. They are our siblings, neighbours or friends. Surely someone saw or heard something that could lend them in jail and have them pay for robbing our country of yet another legend in the making.
Lets stop firing bullets and social media stones at women and go after the real criminals and the conditions that breeds them.
Condolences to all of Senzo Meyiwa’s family and friends