South Africa

THE NOT SO MOTHER CITY

‘When the gangsters don’t shoot, they sodomise our boys’

Women comfort each other prior to a march organised by The Alcardo Andrews Foundation: Moms Move for Justice. Community activists gathered at the Castle of Good Hope prior to their march to Parliament to commemorate victims of gang violence on the Cape Flats. Around 300 people including mothers and community members marched to Parliament, 1 August 2019. Photo: Leila Dougan

‘Kom pad toe.. Parliament are you sleeping?’ asked a group of women from the Cape Flats who had gathered outside Parliament in Cape Town, calling for justice for children and adults killed in the ongoing gang battles in their neighbourhoods. The women asked President Cyril Ramaphosa to come to their streets and help them fix their communities.

If a mother doesn’t heal, the family doesn’t heal,” said Avril Andrews, a mother from Hanover Park, Cape Town. On Thursday 1 August, about 300 women from all over Cape Town came together to commemorate the killings of innocent children, young people and families that occur daily.

Following her son Alcardo’s death in 2015, Andrews founded The Alcardo Andrews Foundation: Moms Move for Justice. It is a non-profit organisation that supports mothers from areas such as Manenberg, Hanover Park and Lavender Hill who have lost children caught in gang crossfires. The support takes the form of therapy sessions and emotional and logistical support during court cases and hearings.

Community activists hold up placards at the Castle of Good Hope prior to their march to Parliament to commemorate victims of gang violence on the Cape Flats. 1 August 2019. Photo: Leila Dougan

On Thursday, the group led more than 300 mothers and activists gathered at the Castle of Good Hope for a vigil for the children killed, babies raped and the women scared or killed. The vigil was followed by a march to Parliament. The commemorative march is in its fourth year.

Read Daily Maverick’s article on the 2018 march: If it takes me until I die, I will seek justice for my son – anguished Cape Flats mothers

At the vigil, there were prayers by religious leaders from Christian and Muslim communities, as well as activists speaking up on what was happening in communities across Cape Town.

Community activist Lucinda Evans from Lavender Hill, said children are not free in their own communities.

Community activists march to Parliament to commemorate victims of gang violence on the Cape Flats.  1 August 2019. Photo: Leila Dougan

When the gangsters don’t shoot, they sodomise our boys for gang initiations,” she said, adding also that girls were raped. Our daughters’ vaginas are not free. What are we going to do?” she said.

Andrews and Evans agreed that women, mothers, needed to stand up, stand together and make their voices heard against what is happening in their communities.

We stand today as women. Let us come closer. Let us bond,” said Andrews.

From the vigil at the Castle, the group marched to Parliament, wanting the president to hear and address their concerns. At the gates of Parliament, members of the #TheTotalShutdown movement joined them as they handed over a memorandum to the Presidency.

Lesley Wyngaard, from The Alcardo Andrews Foundation: Moms Move for Justice, holds up a sign in remembrance of her son.  1 August 2019. Photo: Leila Dougan

Lesley Wyngaard is responsible for operations and communications at Moms Move for Justice. Her son Rory was killed in 2015. She stated: “The army has been deployed, yet the murders and crimes continue unabated.”

Wyngaard read the memorandum to Charles Ford, regional head of the Presidency. The memorandum covered issues like duplicate police dockets on cases. In Wyngaard’s words: “We don’t want to hear the dockets are gone.” Other demands include monthly meetings with SAPS officials, safety for school children and for dormant case dockets to be reopened and investigated.

Ford told the group it would take 4-6 weeks for the Presidency to respond. To which Andrews replied: “In that time, 20 boys will have been killed,” urging Ford to get back to them sooner. DM.

Read in Daily Maverick: ‘Western Cape is the most dangerous place for children’ 

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