victim of a lost society

EVERY generation has a sentimental attachment to the past. I have yet to meet a human being who doesn't reminisce and look back nostalgically at days gone by.

EVERY generation has a sentimental attachment to the past. I have yet to meet a human being who doesn't reminisce and look back nostalgically at days gone by.

We often talk about the good old days as though every day were sunny, our hearts felt no pain and this world was a solid bulwark against the blows of life. It is purely illogical to think the past was perfect and that life should stay the same.

But looking at our world today I really wish some things had stayed the same. If things had stayed the same Masego Kgomo would still be alive today and her poor mother would not have had to go to bed wondering where her child was every night for more than a week.

In the good old days Masego would not have been in the company of older men without a member of the community alerting the elders. In fact, these men would not have walked boldly in the streets with her, for fear of drawing the wrath of the community.

They might have tried but they wouldn't have got very far.

In the good old days, they would not have dared to take her to a shebeen because not only would the patrons have objected, but the owner of the shebeen would have kicked them out and returned the child to her mother.

Why? Because it would have been the right thing to do and back then people seemed to have an inherent proclivity to do the right thing.

This is not to say there was no evil back then and that muthi killings did not happen but it was harder to get away with such nefarious deeds because community members were vigilant. They cared and looked out for each other.

Masego is dead today not because of witchcraft but because of apathy and a moral fibre that is at best contaminated and at worst nonexistent.

It is not her brutal killing alone that shakes me but the events leading up to it. Members of the community report that she was seen at a shebeen, in the company of her alleged abductors and killers on New Year's Eve.

Some of those who have come forward with information claim she seemed distressed so it begs the question: why did no one say anything? What about the adults who were there? Was it fun and normal to "hang out" with a 10-year-old?

I cannot understand how it is possible for every single person who witnessed this inappropriate behaviour to have turned a blind eye to everything and carried on as though all was well.

Even if she had been smiling and having a ball, the indisputable fact is that a shebeen has never been a place for a child.

Oh, I forget, that was in the good old days. These are modern times in which boundaries are pushed and anything goes.

It would seem our senses are also not easily offended by the revolting sight of grown men taking a child to a shebeen.

Granted, the community of Soshanguve was galvanised into action a few days after her disappearance and was active in helping to search for her. But it was too little, too late.

If only they had displayed this energy and vigour when they first spotted her. Despite the best efforts and the subsequent arrest of her alleged killers, the little girl's mutilated body was found in a dense clump of bushes near her home last week.

I know without a shadow of a doubt that in the good old days there would have been several options and scenarios for Masego.

A cruel death at the hands of the perpetrators and a community that did not care deeply enough would not have been an option for her.

Masego would have been playing with her friends on New Year's Eve.

Instead of sitting at a shebeen in full view of adults, the little girl would have been a few steps from her home, showing off her firecrackers to her friends.

She would have been restless and hyperactive, waiting for the dawn of the new year and the anticipation of delectable food and new clothes.

But she is dead now.

That's what happens to children when we stop caring.