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Chanti Niven

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A Father's Shame
by Chanti Niven
Thursday, March 05, 2009
Rated "PG" by the Author.
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Murderer / Rapist William Kekana being led from court after sentencing.

This poem was inspired by true events that I've detailed below. I originally wrote the poem in 2004 when this horrific story played out but recently decided to re-write it. Here it is...

A Father's Shame
(for Herbert Kekana)

Bent and bowed over with shame,
behind him in this cold courtroom,
I wait for judgement to pass
Humiliation like sweat
oozing from every pore
I listen,
through the deliberations,
the verdict, at last.

I believe I hear the word..."Guilty"
but it sounds like the buzz of flies settling
upon a rotting carcass far away from here.
I repeat it to myself over and over,
plucking the word like a stringed instrument,
to tune it, until at last it is clear.


Shock sends a cold steel spike into my heart
I keep shaking my head as my flesh gives in
It cannot be true .
I can see the judge's mouth moving
but words don't filter through.

My son is handsome and he stands so tall.
He turns around and smiles
and through the tears and my disgrace:
I see the
defiance on his face.
My boy, a murderer?
He's not a cold-blooded killer.
A psychopath, someone, anyone
have taken his place.

If I look to the side I see another man's tears.
His wife, a
young woman, her baby
and two others are dead.
They say it was my child.
How can it be?
was never wild.
Could it be drugs...was he mislead?

It must be my fault. I am his dad.
I made mistakes
but I gave him love.
and tried my best to bring him up right
I loved his mother so much
but was on my own when she died

What did he do
during those times
he was left at home?
I had no choice while I was working
but to leave him alone.
Was that when the dark serpent

was hatched in his brain?
Oh my God, NO!
How could I know that the boy of then
would become this...this insane?

My son, my child, what have you done?

The papers say you're just another
"thug with a gun?"

I loved you but it's too late
For now I carry, with this shame,
  a heavy burden of blame for your hate.


Chanti 2004 (revised 2009)


I know the rhyme-scheme and meter of this poem is somewhat erratic but it is as I itended it to be, much like the father's thoughts.

MURDERER and rapist William Kekana, who was called “Satan incarnate” by a judge who sentenced him to six life sentences plus 60 years imprisonment, could be back on the streets at the age of 40.

Under the current Correctional Services Act, Kekana, 20, will become eligible for parole after serving 20 years of his sentence, depending on his behaviour in prison and whether he has reformed himself.... (Pretoria News)

"A 17-year old girl, the sole survivor of a rape and murder spree, told how she saw her two rapists callously shoot a one-year-old baby Kayla Rawstone after raping the infant's mother. The girl, who testified in camera in the High Court, said baby Kayla had gurgled as blood poured from her mouth and William Kekana, 19, "finished her off"  with a second bullet to the chest. The family's slaughter was a crime that shocked South Africa and led to a call for a return of the death penalty" - The Herald News

When this story first hit the news headlines I was aghast, shocked that a human being could commit such heinous crimes.  William Kekana, hijacked a car belonging to a young woman (Janine).  The car's occupants, Janine, her infant daughter, her mother-in-law Hester Rawstorne and a teenage hitchhiker were tortured for hours.  Baby Kayla was shot in the face because she would not stop crying and when she did not die immediately was shot again.  The older woman, Hester, was murdered shortly afterwards.  Janine and the young hitchhiker were repeatedly raped and tortured and then both were shot at point-blank range in the heads.  The teenager somehow survived the gun shot and escaped with her life only by pretending to be dead. Her testimony finally put William Kekana behind bars.  These murders were not the first he had committed and would not have been the last had he not been caught. 

I could speak for the victims, not only those whom I describe above, but those that were tragically affected by the murders. The family and friends of those that died that day. This time I chose to speak for the victims that often get overlooked, the family of the criminal, in this case the criminal's father.  Herbert Kekana was known to be a decent law-abiding citizen, a dedicated policeman and a hardworking man.  His agonizing humiliation and shame was painfully apparent during the court case.  In a popular publication, he made a heartfelt plea to the families of those slain to forgive him for what his son had done. The daughter of Hester Rawstorne, Loraine responded, sending a touching letter saying that she did not hold him accountable. I wept when I read it.

To write this poem I put myself in character and it was gut-wrenching to say the least. Last year when I returned to South Africa, my family and I were caught up in an armed robbery. My son and I managed to escape after being forewarned by my daughter and had locked ourselves in a kitchen. I called the police on my cell phone in a frantic state, knowing that my daughter was tied up and being held at gunpoint in the next room. I had no idea what the two armed burglars would do with her and was in danger of getting hysterical in my fear and panic. I cannot explain how traumatic an experience this was. If she had not warned me before I walked in on the armed robbery, my son and I might not be here today. Her bravery saved our lives and my actions in turn saved hers. I think I drew upon this experience to draw out the emotions I express here in the re-write.

When I wrote the original I drew upon my experience of being in a courtroom and listening to a judge sentence my younger brother to jail for 8 years. The  experience definitely played out in my words at the time.

I know that this might sound strange to some reading but I believe that my experiences in South Africa have made me a more compassionate and feeling person. My daughter who has been through so much more feels the same. Both of us are so grateful to count ourselves as survivors and not as victims. Life is a gift and should never be taken for granted.

Thank you all for reading and for taking the time to leave your messages. I value them so much.



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Reviewed by OnepoetGem *the Poetic Rapper
touching poetic story Chanti,
Reviewed by Ed J.
Been a long time. This a masterful piece depicting unparelled shame and brutality that man-kind has yet to overcome. His crimes against humanity are bare testiment to the primal and disturbed being he is. Wonderful angle as the mother.

Reviewed by Gene Williamson
A triumph, Chanti. You are remarkable in mind and heart as well
as in your immense talent with the pen. After all these years,
I'm delighted I finally stopped by. I'll be back. -gene.
Reviewed by Barbara Terry
Chanti, this poem and the paragraphs afterward just rip the heart and tears the soul into pieces. How could someone do this to another human being, and an infant too? It is just so numbing to know people like this exist. I hope and pray for a day when there is no more crime, no more hatred, no more wars, no more indifference, no more violence, no more negativity...period.

What I cannot understand is, why do people have to do things like this to others? I am just so saddened that things like this go on in our world. I am glad that you and your family survived, and my heart weeps for all the families that have been lost, or that lost a loved one to this kind of outrage.

May the Lord Jesus bless you, and those whom you love and who love you, and be with you always, and at your side constantly. With much love in my heart, joy to the world, peace on earth & ((((((((((MANY WONDERFUL SISTERLY HUGGGGSSSS)))))))))), your little sister, Barbie
Reviewed by Edwin Hurdle
Hi Chanti,thank you for sharing this.take care

Reviewed by John Coppolella
Heavy truth here. Thanks.
Rockie Coppolella
Reviewed by Bobbi Duffy
Chanti, my heart is weeping for all the victims including you, your son and your daughter. It is a testement to you and your family's strenght of character that you have not only survived but can forgive those who did such an awful thing to you. I will pray for you all. And for the father who feels the shame of what his son has done.
Reviewed by Felix Perry
I read this and the following explanation and as a father I have often wondered when seeing these horrific crimes what the parents must go through. You would I suspect still love the child that you knew but how could you love the monster they'd become. Thank you Chanti for sharing this poem and so much of your own caring heart and feelings.

Big hugs
Reviewed by Janet Caldwell
I think it's perfect!

JCP xoxoxo
Reviewed by Randall Barfield
Tragic. It's true, there are almost no words. And to think you can hardly visit your own country without chaos! Lots of problems here where I live too. A truly powerful write.
Reviewed by Carole Mathys
There are no words I could add, I am sure they have all been much pain and horror. This must have been a tough one to write...

Reviewed by 000 000
Heart wrenching and to remember the family, their feelings of shame and guilt. I feel sick after reading this horror. Forgiveness for this type of act is hard to imagine!
Reviewed by Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner

Words fail, except those of horror ... shock ... dismay ... and justifiable anger. Powerfully penned sadness ... I can't imagine.

(((HUGS))) and love, Karla.
Reviewed by Cynthia Buhain-Baello
Hello Chanti,

Your post reveals a lot more than the mind sees. The shock is there, and the anger too, but the fact remains that EVIL does exist in the world and from the times of the Bible it has existed. GOOD also comes, with FORGIVENESS and JUSTICE, and we have hope for the victims as AWARENESS is ignited by writings such as yours.

Reviewed by Tami Ryan
My dear friend, I remember when you first posted this story. It's as heart-wrenching now as it was then. Some of the lines in your poem tug at my heartstrings as I remember struggles with my own son. Your work always stirs emotions within me. To me, that is the fingerprint of an excellent writer.

Much love,
Reviewed by Stan Grimes
So many emotions in much wrong...the human mind? Scary.
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado
I hope the b****** fries in jail; he's lower than dirt, in my eyes! How can he even call himself a "human being"??

(((HUGS))) and much love, your friend in America, Karen Lynn in Texas. :( >many tears!! <
Reviewed by Regis Auffray
Tragically horrific; this leaves me breathless, Chanti. Love, peace, and best wishes to you,

Reviewed by Michelle Mills
How incredibly heart wrenching...only a mother could understand the loss that another mother can feel...even more heart wrenching if the child turns out wrong, and commits crimes as dreadful as these. Amazingly portrayed, Michelle
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