Sometimes, Mzansi can simply break your heart.
We all witnessed Andries Tatane’s very public and brutal death.
The SABC captured for all to see Tatane’s arrest, his attempts to tear away from police, the shot fired into his chest, his fall to the ground and the red blood that gushed from his wound as life ebbed from him.
Who can forget his friend, Molefi Nonyane, holding his slumped body as his tears flowed. His shock was palpable and so was the nation’s.
For weeks in April 2011, South Africa went through a period of soul-searching as Tatane’s public death became a symbol of parts of our country where neglect was high.
Andries Tatane was 33 years old when he died.
He was a model citizen who tried everything to make his town of Meqheleng a better place, a place of freedom’s promise.
He hosted a radio slot. He taught young people basic skills at extracurricular lessons.
Tatane organised the Meqheleng Concerned Citizens forum to lobby for better infrastructure, for water provision and for sewage systems.
He and his fellow comrades knew corruption was rampant and they blew the whistle repeatedly.
Tatane was an ANC cadre who became disillusioned, joined the Congress of the People and then finally quit parliamentary politics to go back to civic protest.
On one of many marches, he was gunned down.
We also saw who did it, or we thought we did.
How is it then that seven accused were acquitted on Friday of Andries Tatane’s murder.
How? We saw him being shot. There were a limited number of officers policing the march.
Who pulled the trigger that killed him? It can’t have been nobody because we all saw him die.
Justice failed Andries Tatane this week as seven people were acquitted of his murder by Magistrate Hein van Niekerk, who said the dead man was not the hero the media paints him as.
Did this mean he deserved to die? We all know, because we all bore witness, that the police who killed Tatane did not do so in self-defence but in cold blood.
In the end, the men were acquitted because of a lack of evidence, though the nation was witness both to the killing and the killers.
The criminal justice system failed Andries Tatane miserably this week and it failed us too by slipshod investigation, pathetic prosecution and a questionable judgment.
What are you going to do about it?