Cape Town – More than 30 000 women have signed a petition to prevent the men accused of horse show jumper Meghan Cremer's murder being granted bail in the Athlone Magistrate's Court.
The 30-year-old Cremer's body was found at a sand mine in Philippi at 1am on Thursday after she had gone missing early on Saturday evening.
The suspects – Jeremy Sias, 27, who grew up on the Philippi horse stud farm where Cremer lived, Charles Daniels, 39, and Shiraaz Jaftha, 34 – appeared in court last week on charges of murder, theft of a vehicle and the possession of stolen property. They are due to appear in court again on Thursday for bail information.
The Facebook group SA Women Fight Back, which started the petition, was launched last Thursday and has had an overwhelming response.
The petition stated: "Please sign this No Bail Application if you agree that the men being accused of Meghan Cremer's murder should NOT be granted bail.
"Let us ensure these men never walk our streets again. Let us make South Africa a safer place for everyone. Let us be the change."
Tassi Tyne Carelse, of SA Women Fight Back, said: "Thank you to everyone for your support and patience. We are amazed at how women around the world have come together to support this movement. We wouldn't be able to do this without you!"
Carelse received a strong response when she rallied women to start talking and build a "women's army", which has led to several WhatsApp groups being launched, saying: "Why don't we arrange for meet-up points in different areas around South Africa?
"Get a group of women together to meet and just start talking. Come up with contacts who can train us and start building a woman's army.
"Take back our power. I'm in Kalk Bay in Cape Town. We can do firearm training, do patrols and self-defence classes, etc. We can also arrange activist marches etc. Who's with me?"
Melody Dawn Storm Louw posted in response: "We should not be forced to pick up arms but yet we may have to. We should not be forced to bury loved ones as Caryn mentioned but yet we do.
"We should not be forced to live in constant fear but we do. WHEN will WE start standing up for ourselves and our loved ones?"
The Weekend Argus reported that the family of Linda Mohr, a close friend of Cremer who also lived at the Vaderlandsche Rietvlei Stables, have been receiving death threats. Cremer had lived in a cottage a few hundred metres from the main farmhouse.
“Meghan was a wonderful person,” said Mohr, who manages a riding school at Vaderlandsche Rietvlei Stables in Philippi.
“She was close to all of us. She was family. She would bring us chocolate croissants and other goodies twice a week from Woodstock Bakery, where she worked. She was always checking up if we were okay.
“On our birthdays, every single one of us would get a present. And on Mother’s Day I’d get flowers. This is such a waste of a good life and, for me, it’s like losing one of my own children.”
The death threats were directed at Mohr’s son, Grant. “He got death threats because some stranger who doesn’t know us picked up that he is Facebook friends with one of the suspects, Jeremy Sias.
"Grant is horrified what people are saying… One guy posted that if he ever saw Grant in public he would kill him.”
Sias grew up and worked on the adjoining farm of Mohr’s father-in-law. The farmworkers were also “devastated” that someone with ties to the farm has been charged with Meghan’s murder, said Mohr.
“She loved the peace and quiet of the farm,” said Mohr. “She adored the environment, the horses and our other animals…
"She felt perfectly safe here. We have never had a crime problem here. I and everyone else can ride this 49 hectares alone. We do it all the time. That’s why this is such a shock.”