05 February 2008

Martyrs and reconciliation

by Na'eem Jeenah

Just over 14 years ago, at 5am on Monday January 17 1994, my mother was rudely woken by loud banging on the door of her tiny one-bedroom flat. She got out of bed, opened the door and was shoved aside as four policemen with R1 rifles stormed in and ransacked her home without giving her the courtesy of an explanation and without producing a search warrant.

They took a jacket and some documents. The leader of the gang of policemen, a Captain Bala Naidoo, then asked my mother to accompany him to the police station to talk to his commander. (Anyone who follows South African police news will immediately recognise the name “Bala Naidoo”, who is no longer a lowly captain.)

After being ushered into Naidoo’s car, my mother, shaken by the post-dawn intrusion, repeatedly asked him where he was taking her and why. He refused to answer. She persisted. Then, realising that my brother Mohseen had not been, as usual, sleeping in the lounge when she awoke, she asked Naidoo whether this trip had anything to do with Mohseen. He replied in the affirmative.

“Is he hurt?” she asked the policeman.

“Yes,” replied that protector of law and order.

Then, fearing the worst, she asked: “Is he dead?”

“Yes,” the heartless pig replied, proceeding to tell her that he was, in fact, taking her to the mortuary to identify her 21-year-old son’s body. When the car stopped at the next robot, she jumped out and ran the few blocks back to her flat. Thankfully, neither Naidoo nor his goons followed her. She got home, called my aunt and uncle who promised to come over immediately, and switched on the TV in an attempt to calm her nerves.

There, on the 6am news, she saw Mohseen’s body lying prone on a pavement in the middle of Durban’s CBD, an AK-47 parallel to his body, blood that had oozed from various parts of his body staining the concrete.

[click here to continue reading..]

No comments: