Fallen heroes: vengeance has no timeline.

By Jamie Joseph

Firstly, I just need to say thank you to the Saving the Wild community for giving me space to be open yesterday, about my feelings regarding the savage killings of 12 Virunga rangers. Expressing my inner thoughts was not easy, especially in the midst of a pandemic when so many people are struggling financially, but I feel based on the response I made the right decision. Hundreds of shares and comments that followed, it didn’t take long before someone actually matched our $500 donation to the Virunga widows and families, another person donated $100, another $10 and on and on…every single donation equally meaningful because it came from the heart, and a deeper understanding of what it means to truly honour our brave ones on the frontline, in life and in death.

And with that in mind, some of you have reached out to me and asked for an update on the hunt to find the killers who assassinated Lt Colonel Bruwer on 17 March. And the short of it is, vengeance has no timeline. 

South Africa’s Hawks Police have said they will leave no stone unturned until they find the killers and they are brought to book. With the exception of the arrest of the alleged Kruger kingpin Petros Mabuza – who I firmly believe called the hit – Saving the Wild operates independently to the Hawks, and so there is a lot of people working on this, and we all have our own special talents. 

We have done what we always do, we threw money at the problem and we hit up our intel network. Frustratingly, lockdown is making things very difficult right now. 

When Kruger ranger Respect Mathebula was murdered by a rhino poacher yielding an AK47 on 19 July 2018, we never told anyone we were in hot pursuit of the killer, thanks again to the intel network. It would be a year and a half before we revealed our findings in our end of year 2019 report, which is published on savingthewild.com. The assumed killer, “Judas”, is now rotting away across the border in a Mozambique jail serving a 14-year term.

These things take time, and I’d like to say patience, but the truth is, it is more about managing our anger than exercising our patience. If you’re on the frontline, and you know what it is like to put your life on the line, to lose someone to the enemy, whether you knew that someone or not, it is personal. Dare I say, haunting.

But I can promise you one thing; if ever it is within our power, Saving the Wild will always avenge our brothers in arms. So just hang in there with us. We got this.

Photo credit: Tom Svensson