We will act, Zuma pledges
President’s words of comfort for parents of two child murder victims
COUNT me in! Genoeg is genoeg! (Enough is enough!) These were among the slogans chanted by hundreds of Reiger Park residents gathered at the local stadium to celebrate the start of 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children yesterday.
Members of government, religious leaders, families of victims of violence and abuse as well as sports and entertainment ambassadors attended the event.
This year marks the 16th anniversary of the campaign and the government has pledged to work with various sectors to bring attention to the many ways in which violence occurs.
Violence has been stalking the Reiger Park community, and the recent killings of two little boys, Taegrin Morris, 4, and Cuburne Lavone van Wyk, 3, thrust the issue into the spotlight.
President Jacob Zuma addressed the residents, including Taegrin’s parents, on the “Count me in, together moving a non-violent South Africa forward” campaign, as well as Taegrin’s brutal death.
“We know the pain this incident caused – it was a terrible, unusual crime committed by people with cold hearts who could not hear the cries of a child,” he said.
Zuma said the government had made a commitment to work harder than ever to reach out and encourage and support men and boys. “We all want to build safer environments for women and children,” he said.
Despite the country having the right policies and legal framework to protect women and children, the violence scourge continued, he added.
Zuma said it was important to highlight it because it was not the laws that would tackle the issues, but the people. “The responsibility lies with us to implement the law,” he said.
Gauteng Community Safety MEC Sizakele Nkosi said the government’s approach would now be to focus on men and boys in order to change mindsets and cultural norms.
“It doesn’t help to only address the victims.”
Ekurhuleni mayor Mondli Gungubele said he and Premier David Makhura had visited the affected families to give them hope and to let them know that the government remained committed to resolving the crimes. “Both the city and province have agreed that more needs to be done, and fast,” he said.
Government officials, other parties and the friends and families of the slain children all signed a pledge.
Residents said they hoped to see action. “We can only hope for the best. The Taegrin issue is what we are most concerned about. We really need justice to be done now that it is the 16 Days campaign. The family are still mourning and the accused is still out there,” Magdeline Peterson said.
Activist Dereleen James, who helped bring the plight of the drug epidemic in Eldorado Park to light after she wrote a letter to the president last year, shared some words of support with the community.
“I encourage you not to wait for the government. You have the power to take what has happened forwards.
“Change doesn’t happen overnight. It takes consistency. Don’t despair,” she said.
You have the power to change things
‘DO SOMETHING’: Reiger Park mothers arrived early yesterday with their children to secure a seat in the big makeshift tent that was erected at the WJ Clements stadium. President Jacob Zuma launched the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign in the crime-ridden Ekurhuleni area.
COMMITTED: President Zuma signs a pledge at the launch of the campaign.