For me the event that signalled the decisive end of the euphoria was the brutal slaying of sound engineer Nathi Ntuli.
How tragic and ironic that he was coming from the World Cup final when he met his fate and demise. In a split second the magic of having been a part of the historic event was annihilated by six bullets and in the end the 23- year-old lay lifeless.
We could deplore this as another heinous crime and a reflection of how cheap life is in South Africa, but no, it is much more than that because this young man died at the hands of the people who were supposed to protect him: the police.
There are various versions of what happened and thank goodness our competent courts will test the validity of these different versions and arrive at a conclusion.
But from what we know so far it would seem even the top brass of the police believe the actions of the police were barbaric and reckless.
Asked about this incident, police commissioner General Bheki Cele called this “a silly incident that we condemn wholeheartedly”.
He went even further, saying he was glad the accused had been arrested and he hoped “they get what they deserve”.
He also promised that even if the courts acquitted the officers, they would still be dealt with internally.
Deputy Police Minister Fikile Mbalula also called for “ferocity” in dealing with “any kind of criminality and recklessness”.
Good move, sirs, but not very comforting if you consider that the likelihood of this kind of brazenness and loss of life happening again is very high indeed.
Firstly, when questioned about the “shoot to kill” stance months earlier, the ministry and police assumed this would kick in when the police were under threat by criminals.
I bet you the officers in this case will argue that they were under threat and could not have known that Ntuli was not a criminal.
Therein lies the problem. Not every “suspected” criminal is a criminal. Also what could have been so threatening about a 23-year-old, unarmed young man, travelling all alone?
What threat could he pose to four armed officers? Surely there were many ways to block his path and make sure he was overpowered?
In Mbalula’s defence, though, he did once tell the nation that we must expect that innocent lives would be caught in the crossfire. How compassionate!
More lives will be lost because the police are allowed to stop us, any time, anywhere.
They are also allowed to travel in unmarked cars. So if you as an innocent citizen are
driving late at night and are too afraid to stop because at that moment, you do not know that it is the police who are trying to stop you, you will certainly end up in a body bag.
Your refusal to stop will be seen as a “threat”. The commissioner tells us to drive to the nearest police station if we are unsure.
Please, sir, get real. How are the police going to know that the motorist is driving to the nearest police station and not fleeing ?
What will stop them from shooting as the motorist is driving to a place of safety?
Should we stop first, inform the officers we are going to the police station and then drive off?
What criteria do police use to distinguish between a suspected criminal who is fleeing and a frightened motorist who is driving to the nearest police station?
Also, what constitutes a threat? Unless these questions are answered clearly and convincingly, many of us will end up in body bags.
The police in this country must be forever mindful of the damage inflicted on our psyche as a result of police brutality in the dark days of apartheid and the early days of our transition.
They must never forget how much it took for us as South Africans to trust them again. How dare some of them reverse all that hard work!