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Johannesburg - Thousands were expected to gather on Friday to remember murder victim Jasmin Lee Pretorius. But the four-year-old’s parents, who now fear for their lives, won’t be there.
Her parents, Sasha Lee Bam and Morné Pretorius, are in protective custody because some in the community blame them for allowing her killer the opportunity to rape and murder her.
Jasmin was raped and killed earlier this week, allegedly by her uncle, who initially claimed she was missing, before confessing to having stuffed her body under his bed.
Jasmin and her six-year-old sister were visiting their father for the weekend.
He left them in the care of their grandmother while he went out with his girlfriend.
At a court appearance on Monday, people tried to attack Jasmin’s family, blaming them for the little girl’s death.
Now the police are hoping that the memorial service will give the Brakpan community an emotional outlet that will allow tempers to cool.
Community policing forum member Lee-Ann Kuider, who helped organise the memorial service, said Jasmin’s grandmother and the accused’s boy friend were in protective custody and could not go back to their flat because they might be attacked.
The prayer service was to be held at 10am at the Siloam church on Airport Street in Brakpan.
Kuider said they expected between 3 000 and 5 000 people.
Bikers are expected to drive down the street to the church.
Organisers have asked everyone to wear pink because Jasmin was killed wearing a pink T-shirt.
“The parents won’t be at the memorial service. But the grandparents will try and make it,” Kuider said.
“It’s not their fault. Who would think an uncle could do this?” asked Kuider. “The father is cross with himself.”
She said the grandmother and the accused’s boyfriend were even forced to quit their jobs because community members had showed up at their workplaces and tried to attack them.
Outside the flat where Jasmin died, people have been coming for days to lay flowers and toys. There are posters calling for the death penalty and a noose has been placed around the photograph of her uncle, with the words “rapist and murderer”.
Earlier this week, Pretorius told Eyewitness News that he never thought his stepbrother would betray the family’s trust.
He said Jasmin adored her uncle and he loved his daughter.
He said he would always regret leaving Jasmin with her uncle that night.
Jasmin’s grandfather, Pastor Colin Bam, defended Pretorius and his daughter, saying the community was being extremely unfair. He said people blamed his daughter, Sasha Lee Bam, for leaving the girls with their father.
“But the couple were separated and it was the father’s weekend to take the girls. He took them every second weekend,” Bam said.
“He looked after these children like that for over a year and he looked after them well,” said the pastor.
He added that Jasmin and her older sister were always well dressed and clean when they came home.
“The girls loved both their parents,” Bam said.
He said he felt that people were angry and wanted some sort of vengeance for what had happened. Because they couldn’t get that vengeance, they were taking their anger out on the parents.
“Morné had just got into a new relationship. He went out and he left his children with his mother, their grandmother. He did nothing wrong,” said Bam. “I was left with my grandmother when I grew up. I left my children with their grandmother. We are all fine. You couldn’t know this was going to happen.”