Johannesburg - While tears flowed at the funeral for murdered four-year-old Jasmin Lee Pretorius, her six-year-old sister Jessica was certain her best friend was at peace.
Jasmin was raped and murdered, allegedly by her uncle – her father’s stepbrother – who appeared briefly in the Brakpan Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, a kilometre from where her funeral was held on Wednesday.
At the packed funeral at the Lighthouse Church in Brakpan, many in the brightly dressed crowd were moved to tears as the family shared their precious memories of Jasmin.
“Where is Jasmin now?” Colin Bam, the sisters’ maternal grandfather, asked Jessica.
“Heaven,” came the little girl’s immediate reply.
Jasmin’s mother, who is six-months pregnant, described her as an “awesome child” who died too young.
“She was a child of fun and colour,” Sasha Lee Bam said, thanking the crowd for their support.
The girls’ father, Morné Pretorius, struggled to read out a funeral poem entitled If Tomorrow Starts Without Me. He had to stop several times to wipe away tears.
He was hunched forward and supported his weight on the pulpit while an unknown man stood at his side.
Both were dressed in pink shirts in honour of Jasmin, who was wearing a pink top on the night she was killed.
“So when tomorrow starts without me, don’t think we’re far apart – for every time you think of me, I’m right here in your heart,” read Morné, who said the poem was a message from Jasmin.
Other family members who sat in the front row included Carla Bam, Sasha’s sister, and Jasmin’s grandmother, Isabelle du Toit, who was in the flat the night Jasmin was murdered.
The little girl’s pink coffin was taken to a nearby funeral home, where she would be cremated, in a hearse-like trailer that was towed by a three-wheel Harley-Davidson motorbike.
The grandfather asked the bikers who had attended to rev their engines as they left the church as a “bikers’ salute” to Jasmin, who he said, loved motorbikes.
The crowd threw colourful flower petals over the bike and trailer as it left the church amid a cacophony of high-performance bikes revving.
Colin, the pastor of the Jesus Disciples Biker Ministry, said the family could never have predicted that a relative was capable of such a horrific crime.
“Whatever (he) did, it must have been so traumatic… I can’t imagine what must have been in her mind. I’m going to choose to forgive him,” Colin said, after admitting wanting to hurt the alleged murderer.
He had tried to see Jasmin’s body when it was discovered under a bed in the family’s Brakpan flat, but police refused him repeatedly, and told him: “You don’t want to see this”.
He added he could tell that one of the officers had been horrified by the gruesome discovery.
Colin said he was comforted after he prayed, and God had told him that he “took her out before it got too bad”.
Although the family had been hounded by a mob of community members at the alleged murderer’s first appearance, Colin said they had been adamant the funeral would be held in Brakpan, and thanked the community for their support.
He also addressed the uproar at Jasmin’s prayer service on Friday, where dozens of people stormed out, claiming the event had been hijacked by police and turned into a political event.
“She (Jasmin) didn’t know nothing about politics,” he said.
The cover of the funeral programme had a picture of a beaming Jasmin, dressed in a little denim biker’s jacket under the words “In loving memory of Jazzie Fizzle”.
“You’re a legend and we love you,” said Colin, closing the funeral.
* Jasmin’s alleged killer will appear in court on Monday, after he was given time to get a legal aid lawyer. He remains in custody.