Father's tragic shooting of son forces us to reflect on high crime levels in country

Siphiwe Khalishwayo comforts her son's father Sibusiso Tshabalala at the Lenasia Magistrate's Court after he accidentally shot their son. The writer applauds her unwavering support. /SANDILE NDLOVU
Siphiwe Khalishwayo comforts her son's father Sibusiso Tshabalala at the Lenasia Magistrate's Court after he accidentally shot their son. The writer applauds her unwavering support. /SANDILE NDLOVU

We have just celebrated Father's Day this past Sunday but my heart goes out to Sibusiso Tshabalala, who accidentally shot and killed his son Luyanda two weeks ago.

Father's Day must have been particularly traumatic for him. I cannot even begin to imagine what he, his wife Sibongile Tshabalala, the mother of the boy Siphiwe Khalishwayo, and their children are going through.

He must have been thinking that Luyanda was deprived of an opportunity to be there with his siblings to shower him with gifts and other pleasantries as a dad.

I would not wish what happened to him on my worst enemy. Killing anybody is an emotionally excruciating experience - worse if it is your own flesh and blood.

I am a firm believer in the rule of law and will therefore await justice to run its course.

This piece does not seek to absolve Sibusiso from facing the consequences of his actions. I am writing this as a father who has children and who fully understands the killing of a promise that is one's children.

Having said that, I am proud of the support that Siphiwe gave to Sibusiso during this dark period.

Such tragedies ordinarily divide and destroy families because there is finger-pointing, blaming and all sorts of judgment.

During the funeral, Siphiwe said this about her son's father: "He is suffering, he wanted to take his own life.

"I had to be strong for him. We had to talk through this, telling him about his other young children. If he died, who will protect them?"

Siphiwe, thank you for being his rock.

Siphiwe continued to say the following about their son: "You were an extraordinary person, so perfect and the heavens could not wait to welcome such a soul. No parents should endure this."

Siphiwe, you are an extraordinary parent, full of love, compassion, forgiveness, empathy and extraordinary commitment to your child's father and children.

This tragedy made me reflect on the high levels of crime in our country and the paranoia that the majority of us are going through as a direct result of feeling unsafe and vulnerable to violent attacks.

Look at the number of private security companies in our country and you will understand what citizens are going through.

It is all very well to blame those who own guns but have we stopped to ask ourselves what one would expect ordinary law-abiding citizens to do in the face of this crime wave in our country?

The sad thing about gun ownership is that it ends up killing those that it purports to protect - loved ones. It is a catch-22 situation.

We sadly can't throw our arms up in despair and do nothing about regulating gun ownership, getting involved in efforts to stop crime and being responsible citizens in assisting the duty bearers in curbing crime.

I am convinced that there is a need for all of us to ensure that our homes, streets and suburbs are safe and we can only do this by supporting our law enforcement officers. Why do we keep quiet about known criminals in our midst and expect police to somehow create safer societies when we collude with, connive and often condone criminal activities and criminals?

We buy stolen property and we look the other way when our children, who we know have never in their life been in any gainful employment, bring goodies home.

We all have a responsibility in stopping crime in our country notwithstanding the role that the state must play in ensuring that its citizens are safe.

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