Koos van Vuuren has seen it all.
Four- and five-year-old siblings in Brakpan staunchly sitting in the open veld while their mother and father drink their sorrows away.
He’s heard of sick and demented posts on Mxit where a father invites the public to have sex with his own children. He still doesn’t know whether this is true or not.
He’s grown up in a household of alcoholics – a time in his life he now regards as having been subjected to child abuse by his parents.
And now, Van Vuuren has seen four-year-old Jasmin Lee Pretorius’s life being wiped away without reason, a tragedy that’s caused even the the most hardcore of bikers to shed tears. These are horrific incidents that have led the father of a nine-year-old girl to step up and take action.
A boilermaker by day and a biker by night Van Vuuren is the founder of the South African chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse (Baca) and the GP Bikers.
He leads a team of more than 20 fearless individuals who dedicate their free time and lives to creating awareness and helping save the country’s children from abuse.
“According to the world, bikers are scum. They are rude and dangerous people. But it isn’t so. It is only when you start hurting our children that we act with a definite course,” he said.
This week the community in the East Rand mining town wept and watched little Jasmin’s pink coffin taken away from the LigHuis Church with pink and red rose petals scattered around it.
Bikers revved their engines in salute when they accompanied Jasmin back to the funeral parlour for the last time before her body was cremated.
The little girl’s body was found in her father’s flat stuffed under a bed on December 28. She was allegedly raped and killed by her uncle, Sarel Pretorius, while she and her sister Jessica, 6, visited their father Morne Pretorius at his Suenet flat along Voortrekker Road, in Brakpan, for the weekend.
Her death is an echo of the ever-increasing murders of children in the country.
It follows the murders of Diepsloot toddlers two-year-old Yonelisa Mali and her three-year-old cousin, Zandile Mali, who were raped and murdered in October last year and found in a communal toilet.
A seven-month old baby boy in the same township was mutilated. His mother and boyfriend were arrested for the murder. And five-year-old Anelise Mkhondo’s body was found on a rubbish heap last year. These are examples of a few of the many others.
While Jasmin’s death hits directly home for Van Vuuren, who lives in the area, he believes the death of any child is unacceptable.
“Jasmin’s murder was tragic. She was a little angel. But how many parents out there have the same little angel like Jasmin.
“How many of them have lost little innocent souls they had plans for or wanted to protect. They don’t know what will happen to them. I’ve got a daughter I don’t know what will happen to her. But a time has come when the village truly raises up children.”
Van Vuuren said, while his organisation was self- funded, it was growing in leaps and bounds.
While he’s willing to help in all areas he said it was difficult to be everywhere because he worked full time and needed the money from his salary to survive.
“It is difficult because South Africa is quite a big place. We can help children up to a certain point. I feel bad because there are limitations, but I always know things pan out when the heart wills. It is my prayer that we find more people and spread ourselves across the country,” he said.
Following the Brakpan murder, Van Vuuren said he’s already had phone calls from individuals asking how they could help, adding that there were plans to start a Pretoria branch. Unlike the conventional bikers, Van Vuuren has no club house. His plans this year are to ensure they are more visible to the public.
- Saturday Argus