Cape Town - It would have been her fourth birthday on Saturday. Instead Tatum Prins, shot dead during a gang shooting in Bishop Lavis, was buried.
About 200 people gathered at the Emmanuel Church in Bishop Lavis to bid farewell to the child, who died terrified as she ran for shelter at her bedside after being shot on March 9.
But it was too late for her, and paramedics declared her dead on the way to hospital.
On Saturday some mourners wailed and sobbed as Tatum’s small white coffin was carried out of her 16th Avenue home and loaded into a hearse.
A funeral procession, led by the St Joseph Anglican Church Brigade, guided mourners through the streets of Bishop Lavis to the church.
Tatum is among dozens of people, including other children, who have been killed this year in indiscriminate gang killings which have gripped Bishop Lavis and the rest of the Cape Flats, as the gangs do battle for the drug trade.
Tatum’s uncle, Danie van Rooyen, said he would always remember Tatum as an outspoken and happy little girl.
“We are here to bury Tatum on what would have been her birthday. I’ll always remember how she would speak her mind with little thought for the consequences.
“It’s hard for us to let her go, but she’s in a better place now. She is safe and happy, and we know we’ll see her again some day,” he said.
Luceen Sinkfontein, 27, who was shot in the hip during the same incident and was very close to little Tatum, was on crutches at the funeral on Saturday after being discharged from hospital on Wednesday.
“I’ll always remember her smile. It’s hard to describe, but it was a very lively smile that could lighten up any mood, no matter how dark. Her death is hard for everyone to accept, and it’s scary for me, as a parent of a young son, to think of how easily it could have been my own child,” she said.
Graham Lindhorst, Bishop Lavis Community Police Forum (CPF) chairman, said Tatum’s death had left them with a sense of failure.
“As the CPF, it feels like we haven’t done what we’re supposed to do. But I will dedicate the rest of my term as chairman to make sure something like this never happens again. We need the community to come together and support us. We need to tell those who think they can put fear into us that we are fearless.
“Tatum, we understand that you are no longer with us, but we will fight for your legacy,” he said.
On Saturday, ANC provincial leader, Marius Fransman also announced his own plans to keep Tatum’s legacy alive by setting up a bursary fund to the value of R20 000 in her name.
“It’s time we put an end to this. All three spheres of government – national, provincial and local – must set aside all politics and work together. We cannot let Tatum’s legacy disappear, and the best way to do that is to help overcome crime,” he said.
A march against gang violence was set for Sunday in Bishop Lavis, leaving from Tatum’s house in 16th Avenue at 3pm.