Death of a true son of the soil

South Africa finds itself once again under the international spotlight for dubious reasons after the bloody murder of historian David Rattray.

South Africa finds itself once again under the international spotlight for dubious reasons after the bloody murder of historian David Rattray.

A world expert on the Anglo-Zulu war, Rattray, 48, was a patriot and a true son of the soil. Such was the man's stature that his death has sent shockwaves throughout the world.

Prince Charles, a personal friend of Rattray, said he was "shocked and deeply saddened" by news of the death.

Our hearts are with his wife, children and relatives. We feel their pain and hope they find the strength to deal with their loss, which is our loss too.

Rattray's death will, without doubt, fuel concerns about the high rate of violent crime in the country in the runup to our hosting of the Soccer World Cup in 2010. We agree with Rattray's widow Nicky that he was an invaluable asset to the country.

She speaks for all right-thinking South Africans when she says: "This famous son of South Africa now joins the unacceptable list of citizens who have lost their lives."

Jackie Selebi, the national Police Commissioner, says he was "deeply shocked" by Rattray's murder.

May his men move with great speed to bring the perpetrators of this barbaric act to book without delay.

That is the least the nation can do now that it failed to protect one of its most brilliant sons and invaluable national treasures. We owe it to his family and his memory.

It remains to be seen whether Rattray's murder will move Selebi and his ultimate master, President Mbeki, to better appreciate the gravity of the crime situation in our country. How many more important people must die the way Rattray died before Mbeki realises that crime, especially violent crime, is indeed out of control in our country?

Our nation is bleeding, yet the president has the audacity to dismiss our concerns about crime as figments of our imagination.

And, as news of Rattray's murder fuel fears around the world about personal safety in our country, we wonder if Selebi really believes that security concerns about 2010 are exaggerated, as he told Parliament on Friday.

X