A Cape mother’s seven-year fight for justice

Patricia Blows, the mother of murdered Angelo Blows, said she was still fighting for justice. Picture: BRENDAN MAGAAR/African News Agency (ANA)

Patricia Blows, the mother of murdered Angelo Blows, said she was still fighting for justice. Picture: BRENDAN MAGAAR/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jan 29, 2023


Gershwin Wanneburg

How can a God-fearing person look the other way when someone is in need?

That moral principle has guided Patricia Blows since she became an activist in her 20s. But, in her hour of greatest need, when her son Angelo was murdered seven years ago, nobody came to her aid.

Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, Blows was out in the community, helping victims of shack fires, working in a garden started in her neighbourhood on the premises of Blackheath High School. The virus did not scare her because the worst had already happened.

“The main thing that you must mention is that I was blessed with good children, so that I could help the broken ones,” she said this week.

“He (Angelo) was obedient to me, and the other two as well,” she said.

Angelo was two months away from turning 28 when he was killed in 2016, while walking home from work in Langlaagte, Johannesburg. He was coming towards the end of an apprenticeship as a boilermaker at construction company Murray & Roberts.

Blows travelled to Johannesburg to find out what had happened to her son. She spoke to her son’s landlady, his colleagues, eyewitnesses, anyone she could think of or find connected to the crime.

Soon she pieced together a picture of what she believed happened, based on her own probe and police reports.

Patricia Blows remains a community leader and activist, despite losing faith in the justice system over her son’s murder. Picture: BRENDAN MAGAAR/African News Agency (ANA)

Around 12pm on a Sunday afternoon on March 13, 2016, Angelo was leaving work when five men pulled up in two cars and followed him into a park he crossed en route home. Angelo was shot several times. One bullet struck him in the head, above his right eyelid.

He was robbed of his cellphone, while the expensive headphones, gym bag and the R4 800 in his wallet were left behind. He had planned to use the money to buy gifts for his family in Cape Town before reuniting with them there.

Other than that, Blows heard no further. First, the case was moved from Langlaagte police station to Johannesburg Central and then to the Sophiatown police station.

Aside from constant follow-up calls to investigators, Blows wrote to the CEO of Murray & Roberts, the Gauteng police commissioner, and exhausted her contact book to appeal for help, turning to everyone, from a private investigator to former comrades.

In 2020, Blows approached the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) after investigators informed her that the case had been referred to a prosecutor nearly a year before. The NPA said it had requested the docket and then forwarded it to a prosecutor for consideration.

The prosecutor decided to launch an inquest to get behind “unanswered questions” surrounding Angelo’s death. Since then, the family has received no update.

NPA spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane said: “Inquest hearings are not within the scope of the NPA. We will however make efforts to check with the inquest court whether or not the inquest date has been set. The family is welcome to meet with the NPA for further clarity.”

Meanwhile, Blows continues to do what she has always done and help those in need.

Leebah Bessick, a former neighbour, recounted how Blows reached out to help her in 2019 during a crisis she was having with her daughter.

“She was introduced to me by a women’s group advocating against gender-based violence. After that, she became, not just a friend, but a mother and mentor to me. Not only to me, but the entire community,” Bessick said.

“The only thing that gets her down sometimes is the way her son was murdered and the fact that there are no answers from the police, so she and her family cannot get closure,” she said.

To this day, Blows struggles to talk about what happened. She refers various questions to her daughter and prefers to write, rather than speak, about Angelo. Even then, the trauma stalls her.

“When I start to write about my son, I can’t continue,” she said.

As she shared her story this past week, Blows was helping the local social development office find refuge for a teenager in the midst of a family dispute.

Following several exchanges on Angelo’s murder, Blows complained of a headache after sharing one of her distressing encounters with police at Langlaagte.

“I want my son back!!!!” she said via text message.

Weekend Argus