Heartbreaking stories of Cape Flats mothers marching for justice
Cape Town – "There are so many triggers in this community. When someone is shot, then all those memories rush back when your child was shot. So we are living in a constant state of anxiety, pain and trauma."
Lesley Wyngaard, who is in charge of communications and operations for Moms Move for Justice, added that, to make matters worse, the justice system has also failed many families, making closure difficult.
Avril Andrews, director and founder member of the Alcardo Andrews Foundation: Moms Move for Justice, started the foundation after her son Alcardo was murdered in October 2015. Yet, four years later the trial is ongoing.
"I am just one of the cases taking so long. There are things that don't get highlighted because your whole family is going to court. You take a day off from work and then you are just told the case has been postponed. Either the attorney isn't there or for other simple stuff," Andrews said.
"It's really poor service from SAPS and the Justice Department as well. So we've been journeying with this case for four years now for no reason.
"Perpetrators walk free with maybe R500 bail or no bail. There are cases that are withdrawn, cases where dockets are thrown out.
"The system has failed a lot of mothers. The ambulance service also can't come in because of the gang violence. It's out of control. The army is here but it looks as if they don't have a proper plan. They are just standing around like headless chickens."
For the fourth year, Moms Move for Justice, supported by community members, religious leaders and NGOs, will take to the streets on Thursday to commemorate their slain children, who were victims of crime and gang violence, by marching to Parliament.
The march will start at the Castle, "with a vigil officiated by religious leaders in memory of the lives lost, the babies raped, sodomised and murdered, and the many women who were raped and are scarred for life".
"Candles will be lit to raise awareness and motivate change and uniting and supporting the moms, families and communities who have lost children. Participants of the march will also bring along an item of clothing to illustrate their loss and struggle and the trauma associated with it."
The 54-year-old Wyngaard, who lives in Southfield, said her son Rory, 23, was murdered on November 29, 2015, on leaving a nightclub in Mitchells Plain. He was smoking a cigarette outside the club when a fight broke out in the parking area.
"One one of the people involved was shot and he died on the scene. Rory was standing away from the scene but the perpetrator shot him in the back of the head. Police said he was at the wrong place at the wrong time.
"My son died on the way to hospital because the bullet had exploded in his head and splintered. The perpetrator said he didn't know who he shot and only heard afterwards that that person had died. He also claimed that he had acted in self-defence.
While out on bail for Rory's murder, the accused was arrested for armed robbery, then escaped from custody. He ended up getting a five-year suspended sentence for that crime after the victim was too afraid to testify, said Wyngaard.
"He was held at the Lengtegeur holding cells but escaped from custody. The prosecutor wanted to use that footage in the bail case because he was a flight risk, but that paperwork and evidence went missing on the day of the bail hearing.
"When I asked the police at Lentegeur, they said the cameras had malfunctioned and when they looked on the compter, they said they couldn't find the documentation and so he was granted bail.
"I took Rory's docket to the NPA because I felt the prosecutor and the senior prosecutor weren't doing enough. Even the NPA advocate said the guy was put at the scene of the crime and should be found guilty. But that didn't happen.
"On the day of the judgment, I overheard the Legal Aid attorney telling his counterpart that SAPS 'het hierdie ding opgemors (messed up Rory's case)'. This led to the case being dismissed in April this year.
"In the statement, the accused confesses to shooting people even though he didn't know who he shot. But because that piece of paper wasn't signed off by a senior official and based on the weak presentation of the case by the prosecutor, it led to it being dismissed.
"There are so many stories like mine where people did not get justice. Even though I complained to SAPS through the ombudsman about the police's conduct, nothing has happened."
Wyngaard's remaining child, Luke, 21, is deeply scarred. Rory had died two days before Luke's birthday.
"When it came closer to the anniversary of his brother's death, Luke had anxiety attack upon anxiety attack in his first year at varsity. So much so that he dropped out of his media studies.
"For two years he couldn't cope with going out and all that because subconsciously that (Rory's death) was always on his mind. Southfield isn't a gang area but Luke was also robbed and beaten up outside a shop a minute away from our house a year ago.
"I work with Hanover Park mothers. They are living in fear and are in a hopeless sitation. They are broken because for SAPS, although there are some good cops, it's just another murder, just another job.
"Yes, the investigating officers are inundated with cases, but you can't tell me within three years you could only see the mother or father twice in the three years to update or liaise with them. The system isn't interested in the parents' pain.
"You lose faith in the justice system as a mother who has lost a child and who is helping other mothers."
Despite the launch of the Anti-Gang Unit and deployment of the SANDF at Cape Flats hot spots, Wyngaard fears that the situation isn't going to improve.
"When the Anti-Gang Unit was launched, we hoped that there was going to be a change in the townships and on the Cape Flats, but it hasn't changed. It was pre-elections and when I look at it now, it's possible that it was a ploy by the ANC to get votes.
"Then they bring the army in. One gets all excited again, but even with the army here, for over two weekends in a row there has been 70-plus murders."
Statistics released by the provincial government for child murders in the Western Cape shows 989 children have been murdered in the last five years, the Cape Argus reported.
Between April 1, 2013 and March 31 last year, more than 781 children between the ages of 13 and 17 were killed, as were 76 between the ages of six and 12, and 128 between the ages of 0 and five.
According to the stats, the majority of the children murdered were boys (807), with 182 girls targeted.