Guns, booze, rednecks and traffic cops don’t mix (well)

I’d be very uncomfortable saying that anyone deserves to die, or be killed, mostly because I don’t know what the word “deserve” might mean in that claim. Regardless of this, though, it’s nonetheless sometimes the case that people do things that are more likely to cause harm to befall them. This is why Formula One drivers would pay higher insurance premiums than professional cricketers. It’s also sometimes the case that people might have the sort of character that leads them into situations of increased potential harm. Risk-takers would be an example, as would people who make a habit of causing offense.

Eugene Terre’Blance was one who caused offense, due to his racially divisive views. He was more likely to be killed than most of us are, other things being equal. Given his racist views, one can imagine that he might well say more inflammatory things, and provoke greater hostilities, if he was involved in an altercation with a black person. Yet we can still sympathise with the grief experienced by those who happened to look upon him fondly, for whatever reason, once he had been killed.

On January 5, a less celebrated death befell Luke Fairweather, an ex-Western Province cricketer who also managed a Western Province youth cricket team. I learned of his death at Newlands yesterday, when we noticed that the flags around the ground were flying at half-mast. Apparently, Fairweather was well-liked by many, and his death has brought tributes from notable cricket folk such as Omar Henry. And as sad as his death may be to those who knew and were fond of him, the circumstances of his death were peculiar, and make one wonder about whether things might have gone differently, for someone else in the same situation.

As reported on IOL, a “City of Cape Town traffic officer allegedly shot Fairweather during a scuffle over parking”. Fairweather died soon thereafter, and the traffic officer was arrested on a charge of murder. But how the hell does one get shot over parking? Well, according to a witness, slamming the police officer’s head into a parked vehicle may have had something to do with it. The police spokesperson, Lyndon Sisam, said:

The traffic officer approached a motorist parking and told her she was not allowed to park there. They started arguing. The woman’s son (Fairweather) then got involved and also started arguing with the traffic officer. He started to push the traffic officer around and assaulted him. He smashed the traffic officer’s head into the parked vehicle. The traffic officer warned him to stop. In between the fighting (Fairweather) was shot at several times.

We don’t know whether the traffic officer was black, and we don’t know how many beers Fairweather may have had that day. But we do know that neither of those factors influence, in any way, the fact that it is illegal to park in a disabled bay, as Fairweather’s mother allegedly did. The officer was entirely within his rights to ask her to move, and to issue a ticket when she refused. She was committing an illegal act, as was Fairweather in assaulting the officer. And if Fairweather was warned to desist, and refused, then we can understand – if not necessarily condone – the officer’s impulse to use his weapon. Of course, he perhaps had the option (or obligation) of firing a warning shot, but we weren’t there, and have no idea of how much threat the officer perceived himself to be under.

All we have are a few clues, which come from Fairweather’s Facebook profile, and which have subsequently been deleted. “Ultra Rightwing Conservative” was his stated political view. And his biography included this:

Politically, offensively conservative and care more for animals than I do for the self-inflicted suffering of the indiscriminately fornicating black masses. I believe in the death penalty and a birth control pill that lasts for 10 years.

If the officer was black, it appears to be at least possible, if not probable, that Fairweather would have been more aggressive towards the officer than many of us might have been. Perhaps even to the extent that the officer did feel threatened, and thought he had little option but to fire a shot. We simply don’t know. But what we do know is that – if anyone tries to turn this story into one about irresponsible cowboy-cops – then that would be somewhat simplistic. And amidst the justified sadness felt by some at the death of a friend/family member, it’s also worth asking whether the tributes by CricketSA should have been somewhat tempered by Fairweather’s apparent lack of commitment to racial equality in South Africa.

By Jacques Rousseau

Jacques Rousseau teaches critical thinking and ethics at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and is the founder and director of the Free Society Institute, a non-profit organisation promoting secular humanism and scientific reasoning.

16 replies on “Guns, booze, rednecks and traffic cops don’t mix (well)”

… or, indeed, whether he deserved flags flown at half-mast in the first place

As more details dribble out, what was initially portrayed as an innocent being gunned down looks further and further from the truth…

Whilst acknowledging the extreme volatility of Luke’s nature, the man never had a drink in his life so the possible influence of alcohol on this unfortunate incodent can be excluded. Now that the name of the traffic official has been released regular listeners to Cape Talk will remember the various incidents involving him for which anger management sessions had been suggested. 2 volatile characters in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Rugby: A hooligan game play by gentlemen
Cricket: A gentleman’s game played by hooligans

Need I say more?

As pointed out already. Thanks nonetheless, and I agree that the title does not fit the content, now that we know this. But nothing in the content relies on him having been a drinker.

Luke never touched any drink in London England when he was here ever. this traffic cop should never have shot him at all. I hope they give him the death penalty for what he did to poor Luke, my friend was black and him and Luke got on very well here in London, Luke was not a racist here in London I have known luke nearly 20 yrs he was a very good hearted loving caring person. my heart goes to the Fairweather family.

I would really appreciate it if you would get your facts straight before you, like all typical Capetonians, go and spread rumours and talk badly about people that you dont even know.

1. He does not drink!
2. The Traffic Officer was WHITE!
3. The reason why the mother was parked there as the gentlemen with Luke on the day was DISABLED!

You work this one out, put two and two together and figure out for yourself what probably happened. I guess your views as to who was probably wrong, might just change?

People like you make me sick! Think before you talk!

And people like you should learn to read. I said: “We don’t know whether the traffic officer was black”. The fact that Mr Fairweather did not drink has been pointed out twice before you did so, and acknowledged. As for why his mother was parking there, it’s illegal to park in a disabled bay without a permit. Therefore, “the officer was entirely within his rights to ask her to move, and to issue a ticket when she refused”. How this escalates to death is the point of the piece, written in response to some people attempting to cast this cop as a loose-cannon.

No one except Luke’s mother, who has not been asked to give evidence, and Ian Sinclair knows what really happened on that awful day at 5pm on 5/1/11. Luke was assisting his disabled friend ( who will be a witness at the inquest on Jan 30th 2012), while his mother moved her car from the edge of the pavement outside No 1 Mariendahl Road across the road to park in the gateway of Sporting Chance, on the instruction of the gunman. Luke dis not have a “sporting chance”. Within minutes Luke lay bleeding to death beside another car while his mother struggled to stop the flow of blood with her hand.So the traffic cop (gunman) had actually crossed the road to order Luke to get out of the drivers seat of the car.Luke did not drink alcohol, all participants in this sad and tragic incident are white, Luke is not a racist, he did not have a gun. Journalists please tell the truth or give up publishing rubbish.

This man -Luke- did have a soft side, but also a possesively dangerous & violently angry side to him, of which I was unfortunately at the receiving end of many years ago…..its sad when any one dies, especially those who only saw the good side, but it does not surprise me at all that his end was a violent one.

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