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By William Saunderson-Meyer


Lambs to the slaughter: We all know a ‘Jeremy Gordin’

Yet another son, husband, father, and friend snuffed out by the feral predators.

I knew the late Jeremy Gordin only peripherally. Despite coinciding lifetimes in journalism, we had never met or, indeed, spoken.

Nevertheless, his death last Friday has been churning constantly in my thoughts.

Gordin was an older white man who revelled in the rich complexities of Jewish culture and language, yet his love and concern for our ailing country could resonate with any South African, irrespective of race, creed or age.

Another disturbing aspect is the emblematic nature of his death: violently murdered in his Johannesburg home for a television set and his motor car.

ALSO READ: Retired journalist Jeremy Gordin presumed dead in home invasion

Yet another son, husband, father, and friend uncaringly and needlessly snuffed out by the feral predators who now roam virtually unchecked.

For context, at the moment I happen to be in Portugal, which is statistically positioned somewhere in the middle of the European crime scale.

Fewer people are murdered in Portugal in a year – 76, on average, over the past half dozen years – than the 82 that are slain daily in South Africa.

In the last quarter of 2022, we had 7 555 murders. And since 1994, 597 999 have been murdered. Such astronomical figures are too clinical to be meaningful.

We are emotionally moved only by what impinges on us or our immediate circle. But the scale of the South African slaughter means that virtually every one of us has a family member or friend who has been murdered.

A life cut short by killers

Every one of us knows a Jeremy Gordin – a once vibrant, humane, flawed fellow citizen whose life has been cut short by killers.

A column that Gordin wrote late last year touches on the kind of minor crime that we’ve almost all experienced.

He relates, with characteristic self-deprecation, a burglary at the Parkview home where he would be murdered just months later. “It ended pretty well … Oh, we always say, at least no one was hurt.”

He then cuts to the nub of how our lives are now hostages to economic and governmental decay: “Does one have to live like this? Why can’t a 70-year-codger forget about locking his door without having his property invaded? “What about the police … what’s happened to them?

Their demise and uselessness are now regarded as so normal as not to need comment.”

As if to punctuate Gordin’s remark, our clueless Police Minister Bheki Cele this week reported that between April and December 2022, 1 644 people were murdered in 701 separate “mass attacks”.

READ MORE: Tributes pour in for murdered journalist Jeremy Gordin

Police efforts yielded a meagre 388 arrests and only three convictions.

There’s another column by Gordin, also from late last year, which deals with what is the most critical and difficult question facing all of us. Is the country still salvageable?

Gordin writes that “at the risk of being theatrical” lines from Bob Dylan’s Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door – “It’s gettin’ dark, too dark for me to see” – had been on his mind.

This had been sparked by the disastrous state of South Africa, “not because, like the guy in the song, I’m preparing to die in a few minutes’ time”.

He counsels them to leave “the beloved, wonderful country”, not because they’re likely to find themselves “in desperate flight across your own border” but because “things are clearly falling apart”.

“You, who have your whole lives before you (as they say), need to consider seriously going to live elsewhere.”

Then, referencing the Jewish diaspora, he concludes: “We’ve been doing it for centuries, after all.”

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