We will act, Zuma pledges

Pres­i­dent’s words of com­fort for par­ents of two child mur­der vic­tims

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - MPILETSO MOTUMI

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

PIC­TURES: AN­TOINE DE RAS

‘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.

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