Remembering Ayesha

Leon Jacobs, a former gangster and drug addict turned church pastor, with children, from Tafelsig.

A day of fun for children on a field in Tafelsig last Thursday had a poignant ring to it for Fayrooz Kelly, whose 10-year-old granddaughter might well have been there had she not been shot dead last year.

Ayesha Kelly died when a stray bullet struck her in her back outside a tuckshop about 500m from her home in Oudekloof Street, on Sunday December 8.

Mitchell’s Plain SAPS, the provincial Department of Social Development and education officials held a “back to school” fun day on a field across from Ms Kelly’s home. It included dance, poetry and rapping organised by gangster-turned-pastor Leon Jacobs and his eponymous foundation.

Ms Kelly, who raised Ayesha, said watching the children having fun had made her heart full of both joy and pain.

“It is good because they brought the children together, but I am very hurt because my granddaughter could have been one of those children.”

Ayesha had loved to dance, she said. “She was an amazing little girl.”

Ms Kelly is looking forward to the appearance, on Friday February 5 next year, in the Western Cape High Court, of the two men accused of murdering Ayesha.

They also face attempted murder charges for the three people injured in the shooting, as well as charges of contravening the Prevention of Organised Crime Act and being in possession of a firearm and ammunition without a licence.

Ms Kelly said she was depending on her community’s support to fill the courtroom. She wants the supporters to wear T-shirts with Ayesha’s picture on them.

Next month, Ms Kelly and her neighbours plan to hold a prayer day to mark the anniversary of her granddaughter’s killing.

Shortly after Ayesh’a death, crime-fighting bodies in Mitchell’s Plain accepted national police commissioner Lieutenant General Khehla John Sithole’s call for them to come up with a plan to end crime and kickstart the national youth crime prevention strategy, but Covid-19 stalled those efforts.

Mitchell’s Plain police spokesman, Captain Ian Williams, said the police had resumed social crime-prevention programmes last month.

Jason Williams, from the Department of Social Development’s Mitchell’s Plain office, said one of the aims of last week’s “back to school” event was to prevent truancy.

The department ran courses on parenting and behaviour modification and could help parents of children with anger issues or other problems, he said.