Pretoria - Political tensions and tender memories dominated murder victim Jasmin Pretorius’s memorial service on Friday.
While mourners listened to stories about the the four-year-old who was murdered, allegedly by her uncle, another group staged a walk-out protesting the presence of national police commissioner General Riah Phiyega, Deputy Minister of Economic Development Professor Hlengiwe Mkhize, and ANC Women’s League members.
“This is not a political thing; it is for a white child that was murdered,” said biker Riaan Steenkamp as he stormed out of the church. He was part of about 1 500 bikers who had attended the memorial service but later walked out.
“Yes, that’s why we walked out; it’s pure politics,” said Maureen Milligan.
Fewer than 200 people were left at the venue after the bikers left.
Jasmin’s father, Morne, sat in the front row with Colin and Barbara Bam, the parents of Sasha Lee, Jasmin’s mother, in the front row of the church.
Sasha was not present, but her sister Carla Bam was at the service.
Inside the church, Jasmin’s grandfather Colin Bam called on people to remember Jasmin and not let their own views on politics distract them from his granddaughter’s murder.
“We came here for Jasmin,” he said.
Bam described Jasmin as “gentle, soft, loving and caring”. He told mourners that the family called the little girl “Two Ponies”.
Bam shared this memory at the prayer service for his granddaughter at the Siloam Ministries in Dalpark, Brakpan, yesterday where he spoke on behalf of the family.
Bam also asked the community to respect the family and said he did not know why no one in the house had heard any screams as Jasmin was murdered in the family’s flat.
“How many of us would’ve heard her screaming?” he asked the mourners present.
He also admitted to wanting to kill the alleged murderer, but said his religion made him realise this would be wrong and that he eventually came to forgive the man.
Phiyega seemed to refer to the protest when she spoke, without mentioning it explicitly.
“It’s not a day of big speeches, we wanted to pray together,” she said.
She said Jasmin’s murder had started a “very powerful movement” in dealing with child abuse.
“It is through her silence that many other children will find salvation, safety and security,
“ the commissioner added.
Acting Gauteng police commissioner Lieutenant-General Lesetja Mothiba said to Jasmin’s family: “your loss is our loss, your pain is our pain”.
He added that Phiyega had organised the prayer service and had returned from leave to do so.
Meanwhile, the man accused of the crime has been moved to a place of safety after death threats were made against him, Eyewitness News reported on Friday.
The girl’s family said they had received requests from prisoners asking if they could “take care” of the man, the radio news station reported.
The grandfather of the girl said he was not ready to speak to or forgive the man, but could not allow the man to be killed.
“They have a way of getting messages out and are sending messages asking if we want them to take him out,” the grandfather said. - Pretoria News Weekend