Re­minders of another shoot­ing, a lin­ger­ing pain

Sunday Tribune - - METRO - Lungani Zungu [email protected]

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.

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