‘Young Lives Matter’ campaign launched

Mikhail Manuel, from DA Youth (DAY), far right, addresses the Bonteheuwel community before the march.

Bonteheuwel ward councillor Angus McKenzie led a march on Saturday September 19 to launch his Young Lives Matter campaign against gang killings.

Supported by some residents and the DA Youth (DAY), the group walked through the area with posters before stopping outside the Bonteheuwel satellite police station, where residents spoke of the heartache of losing a loved one.

Praxcia Assur said her son’s death would not be in vain and that justice would be served.

Renaldo Felix, 33, was shot and killed while going to the shop on Tuesday August 18.

“I get flashbacks. I can’t close my eyes. I can still smell the gunpowder when I got to him,” she said.

“My son worked in the Northern Cape and was home for only two weeks when he was killed. We never thought this would happen to us. It was cold, and he wore his mask, peak cap and scarf when he went to the tuck shop.

“There have been so many shooting incidents at that tuck shop, and yet it is still operating. I am also yet to receive a case number from SAPS.

“The only thing the police officer asked me is whether my son was a gangster. Somebody must have seen something, yet no one has been arrested.

“I am appealing to parents to give up their children if they know they are involved in illegal activities.”

Denver Palton’s 18-year-old son, Dylan, was shot and killed almost four years ago. Mr Palton said he and his family were still grieving and in pain.

“My son was killed two days before my wife’s 50th birthday. He was such a good soccer player. As a community, we must stand together and really mean it when we say my child is your child and your child is my child,” Mr Palton said.

Kurt Fernandez urged the community not to accept it when cases were “thrown out of court”.

His sister, Jill Fernandez, was killed two years ago, and the case was discharged.

“I got the case back on the court roll. People must not just accept this. We must ask questions and speak out. The investigating officer must update you about the case,” he said.

Mr McKenzie said the community should stand in solidarity with other communities facing similar problems.

“We must work with SAPS and the courts, but we must also hold them to account,” Mr McKenzie told the crowd.

Donovan Nelson, from DAY, said the young people killed in gang violence had all had the potential to be great.

“Why must we kill each other? This protest is not just about making a noise, but we must become whistle-blowers. We empower the gangsters by not speaking out,” he said.

Bishop Lavis police spokesman, Warrant Officer Joseph Swartbooi, said Ms Assur had received a case number from the investigating
officer on the day of her son’s murder.

“He asked whether her son was a gangster, so that he can know where to start his investigation. This question holds no malice,” Warrant Officer Swartbooi said.