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Born out of the horrific rape and murder of 17-year-old Anene Booysen that shocked the world, a R10 million project aimed at young people and women in the quiet town of Bredasdorp where the teenager was killed was launched in her memory on Saturday.
In addition, a skills development centre is to be created in the very house where she was left to die.
Anene’s foster mother, Corlia Oliver, a seasonal farm worker who was forced to leave school in Grade 5, will be given a job at the centre.
Yesterday Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande launched the project in Anene’s memory, saying it would benefit hundreds of local young people through programmes such as training in electrical construction, health and safety, solar installations, carpentry, plumbing, community house building, road construction, as well as recognition of prior learning programmes in construction-related training.
The schemes were initiated by Nzimande in partnership with the construction sector education and training authority and the Cape Agulhas Municipality.
Nzimande said: “While the initiative is sadly an offshoot of one of the most tragic criminal acts our country has seen in recent history, it will also mark the dawn of a new era of hope and opportunity for the people of Bredasdorp and surrounding areas.
“From the ashes of a very sad, tragic incident comes a new beginning in the life of this community. Because a life taken away cannot be brought back and the pain that was caused by the perpetrators of this incident cannot be qualified or fully understood, as government, we thought the least that we could do to ease the pain for the family and the community, would be bringing this project here.”
He said Anene’s family was consulted
about the project during its planning stages.
“The Construction Skills Development and Job Creation Project is an attempt to ease the material conditions of this community, so that some of the offshoots of poverty and unemployment do not lead to a repeat of what happened to Anene.”
Nzimande appealed to the youth to take advantage of the apprenticeships.
The training will run for a minimum of nine months and a maximum of 12 months, depending on the field of training.
“In addition to about 700 learners receiving different training, each trainee will also receive a monthly stipend of about R1 500, which will help in alleviating the socio-economic conditions of the community in the short term, while they they will receive “will skills” that will lead to longer-term, more sustainable benefits,” Nzimande added.
He is expected to announce 10 full bursaries for local youth: five for public college study and five for university study.
Turning to the proposed skills development centre - which will be named in Booysen’s honour –
Nzimande said the intended beneficiary of the RDP house where Booysen’s body had been found no longer wanted to move in after the killing and chose, instead, to wait for an alternative home to be allocated to her.
Since the house was vacant, it was chosen as an appropriate base for the Anene Booysen Skills Development Centre.
“We want to employ Anene’s mother, who is a seasonal farm worker who had to leave school in (Grade 5). This will provide the opportunity for her to work at a centre in memory of her own daughter,” he said.
Anene’s family welcomed the initiative, saying it would keep her memory alive.
Oliver, who will be celebrating her 41st birthday today, said that to have her daughter honoured was the best present any mother could receive.
“I’m very happy about this opportunity. It means a lot for the community and youth like Anene’s friends, who are unemployed and still at home.
“While it would have been better to still have Anene here with us, she would have been proud and happy to see how everyone came together to honour her.
“She may not be here any more and it is possible that, if projects like these existed in our town when she was alive, she may still have been here with us today,” Oliver added.
Oliver said that, hopefully, other youths would be able to make something of their lives through the initiative.
Local community leaders also welcomed the scheme, saying it would keep the youth off the streets and out of trouble while creating hope for a better future.
“The youth in the Overberg is in dire need of training. There are many bright students who cannot further their education because of poverty in the community.
“This will go a long way to helping our youngsters,” Dirk Jantjies said.
Themba Tebele said it would be “great” if the training project could be rolled out to other areas.
- Jonathan Davids, 22, and Johannes Kana, 21, who are accused of raping and murdering Booysen, will appear in the Bredasdorp Magistrate’s Court tomorrow. - Sunday Argus