Mothers of slain children march for justice

The marchers say that progress in finding the killers of their children is too slow. Photo by Mzi Velapi

While the army has been deployed to crime-ridden areas of the Cape Flats, mothers of children slain years before are still marching for the resolution of their cases.

Women and residents of the Cape Flats took to the streets to commemorate their slain children who were victims of crime and gang violence. Led by Moms Move for Justice, an organisation that was started by one of the women affected, Avril Andrews, the march started with a vigil at the Castle of Good Hope and proceeded to Parliament where memorandums addressed to the mayor of Cape Town, the MEC for Social Development, the premier of the Western Cape, and the police minister were handed over.

The memorandum for the police ministry acknowledges the meetings and imbizos that have taken place but that “progress on cases is slow and riddled with loopholes.” The memorandum for Premier Allan Winde states that they wish to see progress on a past memorandum given to the former premier. “Progress on the past memorandum is slow to non-existent. Your predecessor has not yet honoured us with her presence and hope that 2019 will be different. This year, our march is to continue our quest to seek justice for all the victims of violent crime whose perpetrators have not been brought to book yet,” reads the memorandum.

Sally-Ann Jacobs lost her son and cousin who were shot and killed in Wesbank. Her cousin, Deniel de Bruyn who was 19 at the time of his death, came to Cape Town from Beaufort West looking for better education. “I was still looking for a school for him when he was shot 15 times in 2015. The case was never on the court roll; we are still waiting for a case number,” she said.

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According to Jacobs, her 14-year-old son who was a witness to the shooting, was shot and killed last year.

Tania Hendricks’s nephew was shot and killed in crossfire in East Ridge, Mitchell’s Plain in May 2018. “He went with my daughter to the shop two houses away from our house to buy airtime,” said Hendricks with tears rolling down her cheeks. “My family is still hurting and we do not talk about it. Whenever we visit his grave, we just cry. He just started high school. There were witnesses but the court case just keeps getting postponed. We know who did it and it’s linked to gangsters. Whenever we go to court he has this smirk on his face and always talks about being ‘innocent until proven guilty’,” said Hendricks. Her daughter is still receiving counseling.

Another mother who relayed her story of losing a child is Liyabona Bongco from Nyanga. “My son who was 16 years at the time of his death in 2014, was shot several times as he was coming back from the shop. He was caught in a crossfire and he was still wearing his school uniform,” she said. According to Bongco, even though there were witnesses, people were too scared to come forward. “So there was no arrest, nothing. It’s as if a dog had died. My son was great at maths and physics and he always argued with his teachers,” she said. Bongco told Elitsha that she has, as result, started a support group where they meet and counsel each other.

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Moms Move for Justice said that they hope for justice for their families and that the march will bring communities together to fight for a crime-free society.

#TotalShutdown says that some progress has been made on the demands of last year but still more demands remain that have not been met. Photo by Mzi Velapi

Moms Move for Justice were supported by #TotalShutDown activists who came to Parliament to “remind the members of Parliament and the President that they have not fulfilled the demands that they made last year,” according to Tandi Rouse, one of the organisers. “There has been some progress on some of the issues we raised last year. For example, the President has declared gender-based violence as a national crisis. The gender-based violence summit last year in November was a positive sign. There is also an interim committee that has been formed on how to deal with gender-based violence and they are meant to come up with recommendations,” said Rouse.

However, there has been no progress on other issues according to Rouse. “We still see the re-victimisation of survivors in our courts. The Sheryl Zondi court case is an example of that. Also women’s shelters do not take women with children older than 12 years and transgender people are not accepted at women’s shelters,” she said.

The founder of Moms Move for Justice, Avril Andrews from Hanover Park, whose son was shot and killed in 2015, said she hopes that the march would get the authorities to act as “there are still many children dying from crime and gang violence.”

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