Cape Town - Wearing the clothes her mother dressed her in, five-month-old Lesray Mentor rubbed her eyes sleepily, unaware of how her life had changed.
On Tuesday, her mother, Lesline Mentor, 26, was shot dead while travelling in a taxi on Concert Boulevard in Retreat.
She was on her way back to work after being on maternity leave.
A 30-year-old man, believed to be the owner of the taxi, also died in the shooting.
At a relative’s home in Retreat, Lesline’s mother, Francina Mentor, told the Cape Argus she had seen her daughter off to work.
“She kissed her baby numerous times this morning. I said goodbye to her at around 5.45am.”
The single mother was only expected back at work in March, but returned earlier because she had no financial support from the father of her child, said her family.
She worked at Pick n Pay in Plumstead, where she had been a cashier for five years.
Francina, who was looking after the baby on Tuesday, could not control her tears as she talked about her daughter.
She said Lesline had keen to get back to work and had talked on Monday night of how she missed her colleagues.
Abdurahman Hamdulay, general manager of Pick n Pay in the Western Cape, said the company was horrified to hear what had happened to Lesline and that it would be in close contact with her family.
“The fact that it was her first day back from maternity leave makes this all the more tragic. Our deepest condolences to her family,” he said on Tuesday.
Lesline’s aunt, Maureen Ford, said everyone liked Lesline: “I will miss her smile the most.”
Lesray’s future is now in the hands of her many aunts and uncles. Her granny, Francina, can’t take care of her alone.
An aunt, Gillian George, said she had offered to have Lesray to live with her.
George has three adult children as well as a 12-year-old son and 13-year-old adopted son.
“The family has already decided that Lesray will live with me.
“I still need to pack up all her things.”
Relative Shaun Mentor said the family would try their best to keep Lesray happy and take care of her.
“The family will together buy her milk and nappies.”
It was sad that this one incident could affect so many lives, he said.
“Innocent people get hurt. There are always random shootings and in her case she was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time.”
After the family gathering in Retreat, Francina went to her home in Lavender Hill where her granddaughter was with more family.
When she arrived, the baby was placed in her arms and she rested her head on her granny’s shoulder.
“We are broken,” said cousin Lillian Ford.
On Tuesday, police searched for forensic evidence around the bullet-ridden taxi while curious residents looked on.
Police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk said no arrests had yet been made. Anyone with information regarding the incident can contact Crime Stop on 086 001 0111. – Additional reporting by Murray Williams