Sa­dia’s death – ac­tion?

The Sunday Independent - - Leader - Den­nis Pather

THEY buried mur­dered Shallcross school­girl Sa­dia Sukhraj in a lit­tle white cof­fin on Tues­day and the en­tire com­mu­nity of Chatsworth wept in­con­solably.

The grief over the sense­less killing of the 9-year-old girl – shot dead in a hi­jack­ing while on her way to school – was so pal­pa­ble and over­whelm­ing that it re­ver­ber­ated far be­yond the bound­aries of the Dur­ban town­ship.

It was shared by peo­ple in com­mu­ni­ties Sa­dia had prob­a­bly never heard of in her grow­ing days.

But they wept for her be­cause they had some­thing in com­mon with the peo­ple of Chatsworth – a welling sense of anger and frus­tra­tion that crim­i­nals are get­ting away with mur­der th­ese days.

What’s even more dis­turb­ing is the in­creas­ing num­ber of lit­tle chil­dren who have be­come vic­tims of this en­demic crime wave.

Lit­tle Sa­dia, a bub­bly Grade 4 pupil, had dreams of join­ing the min­istry, like her fa­ther. But those have now been shat­tered by a bul­let.

What’s prob­a­bly note­wor­thy in this case is the un­prece­dented lev­els of anger and frus­tra­tion the killing trig­gered among lo­cal res­i­dents.

De­spite their long his­tory of ac­tivism against apartheid, the pre­dom­i­nantly In­dian com­mu­nity in Chatsworth has in more re­cent years been largely docile, ab­sorbed in their own day-to-day lives and chal­lenges.

I re­call so­cial sci­en­tist and writer, Thomas Blom Hansen, once de­scrib­ing the de­meanour of the In­dian com­mu­nity in Chatsworth: “They looked at the newly emerg­ing South Africa from a slight dis­tance… think­ing them­selves dis­em­pow­ered and mar­ginal, and keep­ing their heads down.”

Well, all that changed on Mon­day morn­ing. Out came the plac­ards, loud­hail­ers and tyres as sev­eral thou­sand men, women and chil­dren marched an­grily to the Chatsworth Cen­tral po­lice sta­tion de­mand­ing ur­gent po­lice ac­tion against crim­i­nals.

The po­lice re­tal­i­ated by fir­ing rub­ber bul­lets and stun grenades into the crowd but the pro­test­ers stood their ground.

What’s ur­gently needed is for com­mu­nity lead­ers and the po­lice to come to­gether and start talk­ing about how they are go­ing to deal with this crip­pling crime wave, and launch a united ap­proach.

If res­i­dents and po­lice can achieve that, Sa­dia’s death will not have been in vain.


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