Dragged to Death

download (23) The news about the events in Daveyton has shocked Rolbos to the core. They’re unanymous in expressing their absolute disgust at the officers involved – and offer their deepest sympathy and condolences to the family of the poor man. Gertruida – for the first time since she arrived in Rolbos – wept openly.

“It’s almost prophetic,” Oudoom says, “a warning. The problem is much bigger than the policemen they’ve arrested.”

“What are you talking about, Dominee?” Servaas is in a dark mood and has no desire for small ltalk.

“Society. I’m talking about our society. Where we’ve come from and where we’re going. We’ve become unstable a long time ago, if you remember the history we lived through. Consider it for a second:

“First the English came. They started a chain of events by wanting to grab our diamonds and gold, way back in the middle 1800’s. This dragged us through the Anglo-Boer wars, killing thousand of men, women and children. And, I’ll remind you, the casualties included all races in the country. They knew we were bound to the country by love and by roots – yet they drove on, regardless of the lives lost.

“Then we became a colonial state. We got dragged into world wars. We mounted a rebellion against joining the wars, resulting in people being executed. Again, our men were forced into battles, again we paid with blood for being bound to a cause we didn’t believe in, especially WW l.

“And then we had the Nationalist government. Oh, they were clever! They fed the nation certain choice bits of propaganda. They selected the information they  allowed citizens to digest. Young white men were conscripted to the army or forced to spend time in jail. Other parts of society had no choice but to adhere to the laws of the day. White and Black were affected and got dragged into a devilish concoction of laws, lies and deceit. We might as well have been tied to that police van they showed on the news. Even the Church played a part. You could say those clergymen were behind the wheel…

“Finally, here we are. Society is unbalanced. We’ve come from a blood-spattered past and we haven’t recovered from it. Now take our policemen: they are exposed to the most horrible crimes, murders and rapes on a daily basis. Last year, it was revealed that more than 100,000 policemen and women suffered from depression, more than 2700 had post-traumatic stress disorder and 84 attempted suicide. They get dragged to death by what they have to see and do on a daily basis. We expect them to act normally, even though they live through worse things than we see on TV? How can they be normal? And don’t forget: the top brass in the police haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory over the past few years, either.

“We, of course, aren’t just spectators. We are the society they serve. We’re part of this. Blame the politics, the economy, the churches, the past, whatever – it doesn’t really change what has happened in the country. Point is: we’re tied to what is happening around us.”

“So, Dominee,” Servaas cups his face in his hands, “we are facing the same fate that poor taxi driver had to live through?”

“Two things could have saved him: the van could have stopped, or he had to be untied. Now, we are being dragged along by socio-political events, and that van isn’t going to stop on it’s own accord. Our only chance of survival depends on getting off the chains that bind us to the van.”

“And how do we do that, Oudoom?” Gertruida raises an eyebrow as she orders a next round.

“The chains that bind? Now let’s see…” Oudoom counts off the points on his fingers. “First, we must let go of the past. Lot’s of wrong things there, sure, but it doesn’t help – it binds. Second, we need responsible government. Third, we must start listening to each other. Fourth, we must bring back kindness and respect. Fifth, discipline must be brought back: in schools, in our homes, at work. Punctuality would be a good place to start. Sixth, we must create an atmosphere of caring and kindness. And seventh, we must stop shying away from religion. Bring it back into our schools. Establish it in government and businesses. Let people respect their faith once more.”

“Is there such a place on earth, Dominee? You’re crazy.”

“There’s only one South Africa, Servaas. We have a unique blend and mix of people here. The van isn’t going to stop just because we sit around and mope about it. We can help each other loosen the knots, or we’ll perish. It’s as simple as that.”

“So it’s up to each individual? The government won’t do it?”

“The government, Servaas, is the van…”

14 thoughts on “Dragged to Death

  1. scrapydo

    Every thing is so true! We can’t shy away from the truth. Respect is the most important thing in life . If you respect yourself others will respect you too. I feel for those policemen they have the worst job one can ever have.

    1. Amos van der Merwe

      How much is corrupt, how much is stress and how much is incompetence? Soo difficult. Yes, like with Oscar, there will be two sides to the story, even when crime is obvious. In the end, it’s a shameful, sad event.

      1. scrapydo

        It still should not have happened. If they were prepared to handle this kind of situation during their training it should not have taken place!

  2. vanecktharien

    As a South African living in Belgium, it is heart braking to read and hear what’s going on. My roots are in the soil of the North West and my heart all over the country! Where is this going and when is it going to stop?

    1. Amos van der Merwe Post author

      It is heart-wrenching, indeed. Personally, I think the tide is turning. The glaring mistakes, the obvious criminality and the total lack of respect for human life, is becoming so glaringly obvious, it cannot be ignored any more. The ANC realises the tide of public opinion – across the board – is no longer willing to accept the situation and has started eroding away at their support. Let’s hold thumbs. Let’s pray. And let’s keep the situation in the international spotlight. If more and more voices across the globe join in condemnation of the ridiculous circumstances here, we have a chance. Please keep us in your prayers.

  3. colonialist

    Unless massive outrage and reactions follow each such incident, they will become as commonplace as seeing people going through red lights, or watching the police using their blue lights and speeding to do things like going to the local shop for refreshments.

  4. adinparadise

    Colonialist is so right. This was a most outrageous incident, and yet it will soon be forgotten, as the next spate of bad news appears on the front page. I’m raising an eyebrow with Gertruida.

  5. Rita van der Linde

    I would put the happenings due to firstly incompetense, corupption and then stress. I knew a lot of policeman, mainly detectives in my life, all of whom went to the police Academy in Pretoria for months when they joined the force. They all wrote several exams before being promoted, and when they became an officer they again spent months at the Academy. So too when they applied to become a detective, for wich they were strictly chosen and only a few were sucsessful. Yes, there were quite a few policemen, over the years that dit horrible things, but they were few and far between.
    Ek was so bevoorreg om 50 jaar gretroud te wees met een van ons land se top speurders, wat afgetree het as n Brigadier. Die laaste 18 jaar was hy by een van die land se uitsoek eenhede en vir 11 jaar die Bevelvoerder en nadat hy afgetree het, het hy nog vir ‘n lang tyd breiwe van mense ontvang wat daardie tak gearresteer het, om hulle te bedank vir die menslike wyse waarop hulle hanteer is, en dat dit bygedra het tot hul rehabilitasie.
    Nobody’s families were ever allowed in police cars. The poor policemen of today are just placed in the field with an very unlikely person in charge. None of them knows what to do and there,s nobody to ask. I don’t know what is going to happen in the future and how many incidents like these must happen before someone does something. Amos is quite right, please pray with us.


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