Friday, July 31, 2009

The week ends at last....

The municipal strike is over!
The streets of Jozi are a disgusting mess. But apparently Pikitup will be back in action on Monday - maybe baby! So in the meantime, can people take their own rubbish to the dumps? Even the city council themselves do not know.
Have a great weekend everybody!
Rock on....

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The top cop's first day...

So today Bheki Cele started out as our new chief of police, and radio announcers battled with yet another one of Jacob Zuma's nifty appointing of Zulu cronies with a name that has whities making embarrassing click-sound attempts and spitting on air.
Ah well.
The poor guy has a mighty job ahead:






Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Firewalker

So after two days of writing about power outages and municipal strikes I landed myself an exquisitely lovely assignment today. It was one of those events that fills your heart with joy and restores all faith that there are indeed good things happening in this world.
I spent my morning on what was once a piece of raw red ground positioned at the city-end of the Queen Elizabeth Bridge. Recently it served as the area where drivers took their taxis to wash them down. Today it is a manicured garden on a piece of prime city real estate, criss-crossed by beautifully constructed pathways and home to Jozi's own Statue of Liberty if you will. Yes! I got to go to the unveiling of William Kentridge and Gerhard Marx's newest creation titled The Flamewalker.
It is a 10-metre high giant sculpture created in three dimensions out of positioned black and white sheets of steel all shooting out from a central scaffolding. The thing is, if you view it from one particular angle, it is a clear two-dimensional flat image showing a woman walking with a burning brazier on her head. Quite fantastic!
Taliban the photographer and I walked to this exclusive little get together. We muddled through messy streets riddled with the rubbish tossed there by striking municipal workers. We passed women selling 'smileys' - roasted sheeps heads cooked on braziers, who were the very inspiration behind this stunning new public artwork standing alongside one of the main routes into the city. And then suddenly we were at the elegant function where Jozi's arty set had gathered for this occasion.
I asked for my press pack immediately as I planned to file a piece for the afternoon paper, so had to work fast. No! That would not be possible at all, I was told by one of the PR women at the gate. I explained my situation, and she said I would be given one on my way out - even if I had to leave early. Ah well - I figured that there's some kind of hectic embargo in place. I missioned around as fast as I could and grabbed a quick one-on-one with both Kentridge and Marx and felt quite chuffed. But then I got seriously miffed when I realised that the American journalist standing near me was working from - yes oh yes - the media release. Obviously our crowd that were crying "rah rah Africa, Jozi is beautiful" were far more eager to help she of a yanky drawl than she of the local press!!
Anyway, I filed my piece on deadline, managing to quote Kentridge describing The Firewalker in his opening speech as: "a three-dimensional sculpture that in one way can be read as a two-dimensional flat image. But as you walk around it, it disintegrates into incoherent pieces".
CreativeDirector was quite taken with the image, which he felt was quite an apt way to describe himself.
C-for-Serious laughed hysterically in her agreement, photocopied the paragraph and stuck it on the notice board.
Ah, at last. My copy is now on public display. At least in my newsroom.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What will happen to all the dead people?

Day two of the municipal strike and day two of the inner city blackout.
First task I landed was to get the latest on yesterday's tunnel fire and the resulting power outage. According to City Power guy, the undergound passages were no longer giant pizza ovens, and technicians were now able to go in, clean up and try and find what caused the whole expensive, chaotic mess.
I asked if it could once again be those notorious cable thieves and if the technicians were perhaps going to come across a couple of toasted copper cowboys down there. Indeed they did, he admitted, explaining that this would mean that the 40 street-block blackout could then officially be chalked up to the work of criminals rather than a technical fault. Ah. I am wondering if there are some jobs on the line here.
Mission two: the municipal strike is now in full swing, rubbish is piling up everywhere, protestors are kicking over dustbins, throwing stones and swearing. All angles of the story are being covered by journalists with briefs off all kind. And the delightful job I get? Find out what happens to people who die this week while all the gravediggers and crematorium workers are on strike. With luck like this, I should buy a Lotto ticket hey.
I make a bunch of calls and am reassured that Joburg City Council was on top of their game last week. They did anticipate the continued passing on of souls despite the strike, and they had made some sharp contingency plans. Enough graves have been dug to last at least until next week before they start running into problems. Their official line on cemetaries: we have skeleton staff on standby. Bwahaha! Honest-to-goodness, I could not have made that up!
And then, if people STILL have problems, they can always call the ever-efficient Joburg Connect call centre where they simply have to press all the prompts dished out by the voice commands that will lead them to the City Parks division where a cheerful staffer (they did not say if it would be a skeleton) will be delighted to assist.
So I tried it out. Followed the instructions to the T and, after a mere 10 full and complete minutes of Ode to Joy played on a toy xylophone or some such melodiousness, my call did get answered. In my role as an objective journalist rather than highly annoyed ratepayer I cheerfully asked to be put through to City Parks for assistance with a death-related crisis.
"Ag no, ma'am. Those people are all on strike. You are not going to find any of them here today, okay," I was told by a stressed out man who mistook my reply of "Oh dear" as "Goodbye" and put the phone down on me.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Tunnel fire, strikers and court.

Another insane day in Jozi.
First up: an underground fire in one of those tunnels snaking underneath the city caused a blackout of epic proportions as a bunch of electricity cables got incinerated in the blaze. So this meant chaos for morning traffic in the city, as an estimated 40 street blocks were blacked oout and no robots worked.
What was the cause? Was it once again enterprising copper thieves?
City Power guy said he could not yet answer as the underground tunnels were like a pizza oven, so nobody was going to be entering to have a look and see for as long as it took to cool them down - and firefighters working through the night had not yet even managed to put the fire out.
So what's the damage and for how long will we be plunged into darkness and chaos?
Once again - how long is a piece of string? Short answer: "Days".
And then the second wave hit in the form of a municipal strike. Promises of peace and order turned out to be wishful images as protestors chucked over dustbins and caused a bit of mayhem.
Then my colleague The Brat and I hit the street, heading off to the Joburg High Court on foot for the court appearance of one self-confessed drug smuggler Glenn Agliotti, accused of masterminding the "assisted suicide" of murdered mining magnate Brett Kebble.
We weaved our way through cars and pedestrians before, thank the heavens, the power-outed area ended a block before the court. This did nothing to dampen the attention The Brat was receiving in her boots, mini skirt, newly-cut fringe dangling over giant sunglasses. "Hey, are you Swagger? Do you know Swagger?" yelled one guy, followed by another who asked if he could take her photo for his style blog.
Undaunted, we got through security and into the building and caught a lift after a surprisingly short wait considering that the elevators, while terribly dodgy, have to be used by everybody as wooden planks blocked the stairways for some odd reason. The trip skywards was an exercise in eating bad breath!
And all for a postponement!
I missioned home through traffic chaos.
Tomorrow is probably going to be much of the same.
Wooo hooooooo!
I can't wait! Ja, right....

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Dropped calls, shmopped calls....

Early on Friday morning I called a friend. The call dropped and I had to phone her back. It happened again and in the end I had to make three calls to get a simple bit of information.
So I was quite thrilled when I was then assigned to cover the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa's news briefing on dropped calls. Fantastic!
It was a cosy affair at the authority's headquarters in Sandton, heaters waming the icy air as the Icasa big wigs took the main table in front of a small gallery of journalists, industry experts and representatives from the cell phone providers.
After a really lengthy explanation, history and context - i.e people are generally really annoyed because their calls keep dropping, getting crossed or echoing - we finally got to the nitty gritty. New regulations now dictate that the companies who charge us so much for cellphone calls will now be fined heavily if their dropped call rate or rather "communication failures" rise above 3 percent over a six month period.
At first I was thrilled to bits. It felt like at long last we had a watchdog body that was going to tackle the big boys. Us little guys have been forking out for really bad service (yes, you pay for a full minute if the call drops after three seconds!) for ages now. But then I thought about it. Based on office chit chat with colleagues, anger-fuelled radio chat shows about the issue and general opinion, the dropped call rate we currently experience in Jozi has to be way, way, waaaaay above 3%! So now Icasa is going to step in and fine my service provider if their dropped call rate is higher than 3%, which judging purely by my own experience is undoubtedly going to be the case if they don't sharpen up in the next couple of weeks.
After the briefing I went slinking up to the councillor who was behind this new laying down of the law.
"So ... ahem ... if regulations state that the dropped call rate for service providers has to be less than 3%, do you know what the current rate is?" I ask her slyly.
Councillor: "Well, at our last meeting with them, which was in May, they told us it was standing at 2%."
JJ: "And you believe that?"
Councillor: "You must understand this correctly. THEY are telling us that dropped calls are at 2%. WE are NOT saying that."
JJ: "I do indeed. Actually I had two dropped calls on one conversation this very morning."
A little more chit chat revealed that another Icasa bigwig had been unable to make a single call the whole of Thursday.
I filed my story and headed off to the after-party social gathering that generally follows news briefings. I was in time to see staffers walking of with plates piled alarmingly high with food. More stuffed the sarmies and other finger food items into their bags. I got the last glass of juice on offer. Eish!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Marrying in Mpumalanga

Mpumulanga province has to be the source of the most bizarre news stories ever.
It took me ages to work out what was behind one of the latest murder sprees to hit a sleepy little village near Bushbuckridge.
Apparently a regional manager at one of the rural municipality offices received a call from his junior wife, a policewoman, claiming she was on her way home to shoot his senior wife, a primary school teacher.
He rushed home but was too late. Junior Wife had shot Senior Wife and her daughter dead, and their household helper through the hand. Then she killed herself.
So why would a junior wife do this? One theory put forward, but not confirmed by the cops, was that Junior Wife wanted to punish the husband for apparent plans he had to take on a third wife.
I posed this possibility to my colleague, our inhouse expert on tribal culture. Why would she do this, I asked, if she was surely heading for a promotion in the marital stakes? I mean going from Junior Wife to Middle Wife is surely moving into a position of elevated power?
Ah, my sweet colleague explained, not necessarily. Yes, Middle Wife would indeed be entitled to boss new Junior Wife around and call some shots and crack some whips. But Senior Wife would continue to hold all the power, while the newly installed Junior would no doubt catch all of Husband's attention, leaving Middle Wife in a sort of nowhere land. The possibility of her husband taking on a new wife was most definitely cause for extreme anger. But the kind of anger one would think would have led her to rather shoot Husband himself, and at the same time annoy his third conquest, she said.
The whole concept of multiple wives has been opened up by our own President Zuma, whose wives have formulated themselves into an interesting hierarchy, with Senior Wife getting to take her place in the main hotel suite on official visits to interesting places, while the more junior rankers get farmed out to guest rooms.
So, what was this Junior Wife's name, she asked?
"Agreement. Yes - her name is indeed Agreement," I responded.
"Eish. Maybe she is Zimbabwean. There are many Agreements there. She must just have been crazy."
And then today's development. A police unit in Mpumalanga is currently out to recruit 20 new members after most of their guys were transferred to other units by the Provincial Commissioner. It seems they are suspected of seizing drugs smuggled into South Africa from across the border. Apparently they then sell these massive seized consignments back to the dodgy dealers north of the border for like a million bucks a shot. They got busted after reporting the seized goods as stolen from the cop shop.
Welcome to Mpumalanga. Land of plentifulness.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

God bless Madiba!

Nelson Mandela is 91 today!
And so we have been called to spend 67 minutes doing something to make the world a bit of a better place in honour of the 67 years our dear Madiba has spent making his own deep imprint on the globe.
So what's it going to be?
I think that what one Aleta Michaletos has been doing is pretty cool. For years she has been working on what she calls her "Precious Circle". It's her little stand of rebellion against the vicious circle. For years she collected positive newspaper clippings and headlines which she then put into collages.
Here's how she describes herself: "
"In retrospect, I see myself as one of the many midwives during the lengthy labour of the birth of our New South Africa in 1994." is how she describes herself.
"Invisibly and on the sidelines, I was not only capturing but echoing, urging and encouraging each faint gasp and then later on the loud cries and finally the celebration of birth."
The rest of us may not be quite so dramatically inclined or artistically inspired. But it takes all types hey. Here's hoping many, many people go out today with at least a positive spirit and the impulse or intention to be kind.
Here's one of Aleta's pictures. It's called God Bless Madiba.

'It is in your hands to make of our world a better one for all' - Nelson Mandela

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Happily ever after

Another instalment in the highly unexciting Judge Motata drunk driving trial today – going on for two years now.
So, on what must be one of the coldest days in forever, Diva and I trudged the streets to get to the Joburg Magistrate’s Court. Too late – best seats in courtroom 35 were already nabbed by QuirkyOlderWoman, who now can manage to get her West Rand mullet cut (her description, not mine) into a ponytail with the help of numerous clips, and Fabulous Shoes in a pair of shiny patent black wedges.
As per usual, nobody was ready to start on time, so we all sat back and waited.

JoziJourno: Hey I heard this great radio ad this morning. All these guys singing “Kiss the farmer, kiss the boer” in the same style of the old “Kill the farmer, kill the boer” protest. Turns out there is this new programme coming out on Kyknet called ‘Boer Soek ‘n Vrou’.

Diva: You’re kidding me! That’s disgusting. All those Free State farmers wanting wives.

JJ: Diva, I am totally going to enter you for it. You would be brilliant. I can just see you on that show.

Diva: What? You think I would be good on TV. No man. I don’t want to marry some Afrikaans farmer.

JJ: Oh come on. Think of it. You would be fabulous on TV. Those farmers will go for you in a big way.

Diva: Hey if I did something like that, I would go all out. I am not actually Zulu, but I would get myself full-on wedding attire – beads, bangles, a hat, the whole thing hey. I would push their ratings through the roof.

JJ: Absolutely. You would be phenomenal.

Diva: Ja, but think about it. I am seTswana and my Afrikaans is really bad. But mind you, those farmers can often speak good seSotho and I can understand seSotho perfectly. So we would be able to communicate at least. But I can’t cook that well, I can make porridge but not koeksusters and hertzoggies and those dishes.

JJ: I think you need to be able to make a good potjie and bobotie and all that kind of boerekos.

Diva: Can you imagine me with an Afrikaans farmer with his enormous stomach, all these beautiful little coloured children running around?

JJ: Erm… ja. Awesome TV!

And then it was time for court to start. Hours of boring testimony.
The highlight: prosecutor going to great pains to remind the court that on the night of the crash the high court judge must have been drunk because he said “F… you” at least ten times over.
So we now wait for judgement...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Not-so high fashion

So I have been thinking.
Imagine Paris Hilton and Elton John were to produce a love child... Eeeeew. This is a disturbing image.
Ok, so let's confine this discussion to laboratories, petrie dishes and test tubes. If one were to merge genetic material from Paris and Elton, and create a fashion-crazy daughter, I am convinced that this little soul would have the exact same dress sense as my four-year-old daughter, Little One.
When we go out, I look at other little girls and wonder how their mom's managed to get them dressed in such co-ordinated ensembles. Since Little One turned three she has bee hellbent on dressing herself. And while I am no fashionista, I would say her style could best be described as Paris Hilton on crack.
We are talking bright, bold colours. Layers, patterns, stripes and dots - the more eccentric the mix, the better. Skirts over leggings, frills, socks with sandals, plastic jewellery ... get my drift? Such is her choice of attire, round the clock.
At bed time - I give you Bob the Builder pyjamas, Tinkerbell slippers and a plastic silver crown.
The accessories are bold and creative with an in-your-face twist of defiance. A stretchy alice band thingie worn low over the brow so as to give the thick-browed appearance of one with serious intellectual challenges; a fairy pillow case pinned round the neck and allowed to hang down her back like a super hero cape or brookies over trousers as inspired by one Superman.
I am a laid back mom and tend to let her do her own thing. So she does. Like everywhere we go.
Here you see her checking out kangaroos while we were holidaying in Australia. The fairy wings were totally not my idea...
She is going to be an interesing teenager!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A lethal sting

Working on Sunday is something I dread enormously before the time, and then feel an enormous sense of relief over when it's done. I know I can walk in on Monday morning with a skip in my step, feeling like I am secretly starting Tuesday while everyone else is hitting Monday blues. So my shift is now over, roll on my day off on Friday!!
So today's shift is over. A few hours were spent on one of those awful non-story events that takes a lot of running around and talking to people, on for it to unfold into something completely unexciting.
Then I followed up on the story I did the last time I worked a Sunday - the Dr Mike Sprenger murder. The bad news is that absolutely nothing has come of it. Detectives have no idea who ambushed him in his rooms, stabbed him and set his body on fire. Nor do they know why it was done. The good news is that somebody anxious to track the killer has posted a reward. So here's hoping it will eventually lead to justice being served and some kind of resolution and closure for poor Mrs Springer and her three small children.
Working on a DA press release turned out to be a whole lot more entertaining than I expected. The party has, since government announced its decision to disband the Scorpions, been really angry. They took every opportunity to oppose the move. Then last week we saw the final closure of our country's most elite crime combating unit. And the cops launched the replacement unit - The Hawks. The glitzy bash at Gallagher Estate was followed by days of colourful newspaper adverts heralding the arrival of our new birds of prey that will swoop down on criminals and tear them apart. By the end of the week the cops had chalked up three impressive arrests as Hawk successes. The first came on Tuesday when it was announced that they had arrested two guys who were planning on hitting a jewellery store in Durban. They also nailed the witch doctor who had been aiding them with muti, I think.
This delightful crowing about sudden big busts served as something of a sharp prod up the backside of the angry DA lion as the party lashed out scornfully. Dianne Kohler Barnard, their "Shadow Minister of Police" was incensed as she pointed out that only the head of the Hawks had been appointed, all other applications were still under review and so the unit now has only one member.
The cops, she maintained, are treating South Africans like 3-year-olds, expecting us to believe their fake claims. The launch, the fake success claims and the newspaper ads, she said, were nothing more than Hollywood treatment given to an issue, much in the same way as we have seen with the non-release of crime statistics, amounting to nothing more than smoke and mirrors.
The police maintained that technically they have not lied. Reporting structures mean that the big busts they gave out were those of units (organised crime) reporting ultimately to the head of the Hawks and so therefore they can be counted as Hawks arrests.
Dianne K-B raged: "Since when is the arrest of two would-be jewel thieves and a sangoma fallen under organised crime? It's hardly a multimillion Rand fraud scam, or a Fidentia scandal."
The Police Ministry kicked back against the DA's claims, describing them as nasty and unfair.
But Kohler Barnard's last crack was the one that had me in stitches.
"They've done away with the Scorpions and instead given us a featherless chick that eats mice and will likely never leave the nest."
Let us pray that she is wrong...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Surreal surprise

Sometimes the stories I come across are completely surreal!
Like this one from a place called Piet Retief filed by a small news agency.
It started off with a service delivery protest against the local town municipality. And as is the way with small protests, it got out of hand and two guys got accidentally killed.
So a funeral was held for them at the local stadium. This too went a bit pear-shaped when a young gent arrived in his bakkie and proceeded to spin wheelies. As one does at funerals of course. Then during his joy ride he lost control of his miniature lorry and it slammed into a 70-year-old woman and killed her. Her friend got her legs crushed.
People in the town were a little miffed when the case got thrown out due to lack of evidence when it went to court this week. Apparently they had smacked the young driver around and then handed him over to the cops instead of calling the cops out to the scene to gather evidence and eyewitness accounts. Big problem.
So the alleged joyriding killer walks free. Would it surprise you to hear that his name is ....
Truly truly.
Surprise Mkhatshwa.
The somewhat volatile Piet Retief community members are now really annoyed with the police and the courts. They are threatening to "take serious steps against them".
I am glad I do not live there. Jozi is a veritable retirement village in comparison.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Career criminals? I think not.

I am thinking that Joburg must have some of the most creative and interesting criminals around. Our cops are most certainly not bored. It must be quite something drawing up the press releases they send out.
Take this latest breakthrough by the Edenvale cable theft unit: they spent a bunch of time trawling the suburb and came across a tall gent who had successfully wired his house to some electricity cables in the area and therefore set himself up with a serious supply of free electricity. Our men in blue arrested him and the courts told him not to do it again and that he should rather go to the municipality and pay for his power.
"The suspect was out on warning on the 9 June 2009 instant the suspect to stop illegal connection. He went further and connect. At this stage the suspect owes the council more than R40000.00," reads the Cable Theft Unit's new press statement on this matter. Ja, I also don't know what it means.
They continue: "The suspects connect in the street pole, our electricians spotted the wire which goes direct to the suspect and our members were warned and the owner of the house was arrested who is the suspect."
Basically the upshot is that this 46-year-old mechanic is now in custody and about to be charged with theft.
The second enterprising suspect is a woman who sent her husband a text message to let him know she was going to be working late so that he did not worry about her failure to return home at the normal time. But then, later that evening, the poor husband receives a follow-up SMS telling him his wife has been kidnapped and he mustn't call the police or try and look for her.
So, as would be the course of action taken by most thinking husbands, he immediately calls the cops and they launch a massive manhunt. The activate the tracker device in missing wife's car, locate it outside a flat and surround the place. Ten squad cars respond and they pounce on the place. Missing wife is found inside the flat, relaxing in her pyjamas, apparently intent on spending a quiet evening at home with her no-longer-secret lover.
The upshot: she is to be billed for the manhunt and will receive a formal warning not to pull such a stunt again.

Monday, July 6, 2009

First the body. Then the arms and legs. Now where's the head?

When I sit back at the end of a working day and think about how the past few hours were spent I realise that my life is bizarre. Blog fodder in fact!
Take today - my first call was to a woman at the Sunnyside police station to follow up on a strange report that came in over the weekend. Some hapless soul strolling through the bush near a small canal on Saturday afternoon came upon a suitcase. Somebody had set fire to it where it had been ditched on canal bank. He went to investigate and found the case contained a woman's torso.
Ah huh! There had been developments, the police woman told me. Yesterday afternoon a tramp had gone rummaging through the dustbins of Sunnyside. And that was when he came across two severed arms and a pair of legs. The cops were informed and detectives seem pretty convinced that the limbs matched with the burnt torso.
Early investigations revealed that there were no missing persons report on file for a woman in Sunnyside. And so emerged the first theory that the victim may have been a "lady of the night" whose disappearance was not yet known or a cause of enough concern to elicit a formal report.
The last big story we had about "ladies of the night" involved hotel rooms, Egyptian soccer players, a questionable theft report that then sparked a bit of an international scandal. But hey - let me not be the one to make random associations.
So I spoke to the investigating officer who confirmed that they have zero leads.
Then I received an e-mail from "The Ministry of Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities" (cannot say I love this lumping together of population groups into a such a lame-sounding category who then appoints a mighty man as their spokesperson - but anyway) who wants to place on record its "grave concern" (swear to God - I could not make that up) with "this gruesome murder and body mutilation".
They made a public appeal for information - both on the murder and the whereabouts of the missing head.
So that was the story. Post mortem tomorrow. I am glad I just get to write the basic story - some other poor soul has to do the actual autopsy. Eeeeew!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A tragic, tragic death

Today my heart broke for a woman called Elizabeth Ramolefe. I watched her cry inconsolably as she tried to make sense of her shattered world following the tragic shooting that left her grandson dead and the man who has employed her for the past five years locked up for murder.
It’s not often that stories rattle me to the core, but this one most certainly did as I watched the distraught woman battle for words to describe the terrible events that had unfolded so suddenly.
Yesterday the 12-year-old boy she has raised as her own returned home from boarding school. During the holidays he shares the small outside room she lives in on the property of a family in Parkmore. That afternoon intruders tried to break in – leaving everyone who lives in the large home feeling uneasy.
Last night she was cooking in the kitchen when the boy called her in her own language. She immediately thought the intruders had returned and alerted the man whose home she has kept in order for the past five years. He told her to stay inside while he called for armed response. The security company took a while and the child continued screaming for her. So the man grabbed a hunting rifle and fired a single shot at a shadow he saw move across the window of Lizzie’s room.
It was not long before it emerged that the boy was dead and the man was to spend the night in the cells as a murder charge was laid against him.
I got the sterile version of what went down from the cops. And then I went out to the house where it happened. I joined up with other journalists waiting outside, all of us kept at bay by a family who did not want to speak to us.
After a while Lizzie came to speak to us. She did her best to tell her story. She believed her boss had been trying to protect her precious grandson. It was all a terrible, terrible accident.
A small child’s swing and a jungle gym in the garden made it plain that little children lived in the house. Toddlers whose father is locked up in a police cell.
It’s a desperately sad situation. It seems like so many people have been so badly hurt by an senseless act. But perhaps not so senseless in the context of Joburg crime. How many families live in a state of fear after criminals have entered their homes or even hurt them? How many people, shaken badly by a break-in or attempted robbery, feel so scared and angry that they will shoot to kill if they sense their loved ones are in the remotest danger? Who in this city cannot identify with that mindset?
Later on a contact called. He had been on the scene. The hunting rifle, he said, had been a big one. No warning shot had been fired, he said. The child had actually been locked in the outside room when he was shot. That bullet that hit him was one perhaps intended for a large animal – and he had been a small child. The damage done, the source claimed, was immense.
The shooter had apparently been walking around afterwards, chatting and not acting like someone who had just killed a child.
The dilemma is a tough one. What does one write? How much information should get published, and how do you keep the story completely fair and objective? In what way does a single sentence paint a person’s character?
Who are any of us to judge?
Right or wrong, good or bad, true or false - the story must go out…