Mothers mourn sons

Joan van Niekerk, from Rocklands, Cheryl Petersen, from Rocklands, Shanaaz Theunissen, from Rocklands, Fatiema Davids, from Eastridge and Linda Jones, a Mitchells Plain United Residents Association executive member.

As the death toll of those killed as a result of crime and violence in the community rises, so too does the number of mothers dealing with the trauma and pain of their children’s deaths.

To show support to these women and their families, especially during Women’s Month, the Mitchell’s Plain United Residents’ Association’s (MURA) hosted a gathering at the Town Centre library.

Linda Jones, an executive member of Mura, hosted the event, which also aimed to raise awareness around gang violence and promote preventative measures to mothers of youth at risk of engaging in drug use or gang activities.

Ms Jones said often mothers were ill-informed about the justice system and its processes and were often uncertain about the steps to follow. She said the mothers of the victims wouldn’t get their children back, while the families of the suspects sometimes victimised them.

Shanaaz Theunissen, 45, from Rocklands said her son Naasief was forced to join a gang in his area since he walked on “their turf”. He dropped out of school because of the danger he was in, walking through the gang area.

He was enrolled at Northlink College for the 2017 intake. However, on October 30, 2016 Naasief was shot and killed at age 18.

“He wanted to be a chef when he grew older. He was busy with his learner’s licence at the time,” said Ms Theunissen.

She said while she has accepted her son’s death, the justice system doesn’t always treat people well, “postponing cases, shortage of staff, to name a few.”

Fatiema Davids, 51, from Eastridge said her son, Nashied was killed in 2014 by a man who owed him a R100.

Her son helped the man on June 23 that year, collecting rubble in a bakkie and was to have paid her son once the job was done. When Nashied asked for the money owed to him, the man shot him.

“I went to court for several years for my son, hearing there is no judge on the day or the case is postponed. I almost lost hope. I felt as though my son was the one who committed the crime when I had to sit in court alone and his killer’s entire family sits in court,” said Ms Davids.

“I sit with this pain, it goes with me every day,” she said.

Joan van Niekerk, 44, from Rocklands said she still missed her 17-year-old son Manuel Hamilton who was killed in gang crossfire inside a tuck shop in Diamond Street, Rocklands, in February 2017.

“No pain can stop this. Mothers should encourage their children to stay away from gangsterism and not get involved,” said Ms Van Niekerk (“Crying on deaf ears”, Plainsman, October 24, 2018).

Cheryl Petersen, 56, from Rocklands is a neighbourhood watch member who forms part of the support group for mothers who have lost their children.

“It is not a nice thing to see what mothers have to go through,” said Ms Petersen. “We think of these mothers every day and what they have to go through.”

“The parents of the victims are often victimised at the hearings which makes it even more painful to bear while knowing that even if they get the desired sentence, their children will never be returned to their families. It is our duty as community workers, parents and leaders to ensure we prevent our children from engaging in these harmful and often fatal activities. This is the only way we can truly have a safer community,” said Ms Jones.

For more information about Mura, connect with them on their Facebook page or call Norman Jantjes, the chairperson, on 083 628 4421.