Reminders of another shooting, a lingering pain
WHEN I heard that a policeman shot and killed his wife inside a divorce court at the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Monday, I couldn’t but help think about December 16 last year.
I was at home that night when the phone rang. It was my niece who called to tell us her mother, my eldest sister, had been shot dead at their home in Johannesburg.
The shooter was her father. My brother-in-law.
I knew my sister as a loving and caring person. My brother-in-law was not an in-law. He was my brother and that’s how I respected him.
What could have happened that triggered such a rage in a man I knew as a kind and caring human being?
My sister and brother-in-law had been married for more than 20 years.
They seemed to be happy… in love. The similarities between the incidents were striking. Both the shooters were policemen, whose job it was to protect the vulnerable.
Both shot their wives, then turned the gun on themselves.
Both incidents happened around the period our country marked 16Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children.
We buried my sister and my brother-in-law. But within so many of us the pain lived on.
My nephew, who was home when the incident happened, was seriously injured but survived. I have no doubt the scars he bears will be a constant reminder of the day he lost the people he called mom and dad. He was 21 at the time.
Initially, the incident caused animosity between the two families.
Understandably, there was fingerpointing. But no amount of hatred could answer the question: Why?
So, we turned to healing instead and made our focus the living; my niece and nephew in particular.
I was not at work the day the shooting happened at the magistrate’s court. Perhaps that was a good thing. But I followed the reports, the speculation.
These are what many would call “incidents”. But when it concerns a loved one, it is so much more. The story also doesn’t end when the scene is cleared or the funeral is over.
In fact, that’s when the real story starts – when those left behind are forced to find a way to go on living.
I’ve learnt a lesson from all of this – don’t bottle things up. When one explodes, many people get affected.