A lot of heartache and tragedies would be avoided if young people just became more responsible.
So said Amina Rajap, the Statice Heights co-ordinator of the joint Bridgetown and Statice Heights Neighbourhood Watch.
Ms Rajap made the comment in response to the murder of Leah Marchant, 17, whose body was found in the backyard of a house in Appledene Road, Silvertown, just before 7am on Saturday October 1.
A large crowd of shocked residents gathered outside the house while forensic pathologists combed the crime scene for evidence.
Residents spoke among one another, some claiming Leah was a well-known drug user, while others described her as a “beautiful, sweet girl”.
Aqeelah Abrahams, secretary of Parktown 1 Neighbourhood Watch, said she and her team patrolled in that area up until 3.30am on Saturday October 1, and “things were unusually quiet”.
“There was nobody walking in the street that time – not even the usual ones we often see walking around that time of the morning. Leah’s family used to live in this area, before they moved to Statice Heights in Kewtown.
“In our area, you would find car thefts or car break-ins, and even house break-ins, but murders like this one, never happen here,” Ms Abrahams said.
Her body was found by Neil Damons, 24, who lives in the Appledene Road house.
“This is the first time something like this has happened here. We never had a problem with people coming on our property or in our backyard. This is a big shock for us,” Mr Damons said.
Athlone SAPS spokesperson, Sergeant Zita Norman, said police officers had been on patrol, when they were approached about the murder.
She said the body had “bruises around the neck” and a murder docket has been opened.
Leah’s aunt, Shirleen Segers, said her niece’s murder is a big shock to their family.
“This is very sad. Everybody I spoke to this morning said she was a sweet and lovable girl. Yes, she had her challenges, but she did not deserve to die like this,” Ms Segers said.
She added that her sister, Leah’s mother, was distraught and refused to come to the murder scene.
Ms Rajap said her neighbourhood watch members face the same challenges every weekend – of young people roaming the streets in the early morning hours, and when the watch members ask them to go home, they are often met with rudeness and aggression.
“We saw Leah when she was in our area late on Friday night (September 30), and we asked her to go home, like we do with everyone that is on the street when we patrol.
“The children don’t want to listen to us – even when we tell them it’s for their own safety. Believe me, these young people are so rude with us.
“They say we can’t tell them what to do, and it hurts. We are only trying to protect them by telling them to go home or to go inside.
“Every weekend in the Heights youngsters roam the streets late at night, smoking and drinking in the streets.
“Some of them are still very young. And then you find, at times, adults who drink with the youngsters, and if we talk to them, they want to get aggressive with us.
“That is sometimes how the trouble starts here by us. They are not even concerned when we tell them gangs can just start to shoot, especially at groups of people gathered on the corners.
“What is also sad, is when the parents think its okay for their children to drink and to stand on the corners, in groups, and be loud and rude. We don’t have a say as the neighbourhoood watch.
“It is very sad what happened to such a pretty girl. Maybe her murder could have been avoided if she had just gone home. May her soul rest in peace,” Ms Rajap said.
She also cautioned parents against “covering up” for their children’s wrongdoings.
“It’s sad that parents will cover for their children – until they get the news their child is no more. My plea to parents is please not to cover for your children like that.
“If you want to help them stay out of trouble, keep them inside.
“Let’s be more firm with our children and know where our children are.
“Also, please do support us as the neighbourhood watch.
“Come and see how it goes at night on the roads – where we take some of our children out from, especially the kind of houses they go to at night.
“Our people need to wake up before it’s too late.”
Anyone with information about the murder, can contact SAPS Athlone at 021 697 9238/39.