Mothers unite

2016-08-09 06:00
Avril Andrews was supported at the march by her family and friends. The group which gathered at Parliament’s gates were left teary-eyed as they relayed accounts of how they lost their children to gang violence.  PHOTO: Chevon Booysen

Avril Andrews was supported at the march by her family and friends. The group which gathered at Parliament’s gates were left teary-eyed as they relayed accounts of how they lost their children to gang violence. PHOTO: Chevon Booysen

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A group of mothers and women from various gang-infested communities who lost their children through gang violence, gathered outside the Cape Town Parliament building on Monday morning last week.

The group of women handed over a memorandum on Monday 1 August asking for “harsher sentences and speedier arrests”.

Mother of slain 27-year-old Alcardo Andrews, Avril Andrews, along with the organisation Moms Move For Justice, stood outside Parliament voicing their concerns for lives lost through gang violence.

“Our children are killing each other because they are feeling the pressure to join gangs or groups affiliated to gangs in their communities. Children are being forced into joining gangs and just a month into joining these gangs they are gunned down,” she says.

The mother from Hanover Park, who lost her son through gang violence during October last year, says she wants all mothers to get justice for losing their children in senseless killings.

“In our memorandum we have asked for harsher sentences to be handed down to the killers of our children and also for speedier arrests so that these criminals can be taken off our streets. We also want the corruption of the police to stop because they are working with the gangs. They aren’t attending to the mothers and communities who want to be rid of this evil,” she criticises.

A representative from the Department of Justice accepted the memorandum, but the mothers were not happy with the response.

“They told us they can only attend to this matter after Tuesday (2 August). We have been corresponding with the department for weeks already to arrange this march and we got the permission granted, but now they tell us they can only attend to the matter after Tuesday. There is no sense of urgency and I am very disappointed,” says Andrews.

The mourning mother says her son spoke to her about the gang violence in the area before he died on Wednesday 28 October last year.

“He told me the youth in the community were feeling the pressures of becoming involved with certain groups in the area. He also felt the pressure and asked me to create awareness among mothers because he did not want to sign up for a gang,” she recalls.

Andrews also alludes to the “enormous amounts of illegal firearms in communities”.

“People think it’s funny that these firearms get into our communities, but it’s not a joke. Something must be done about it.”

Another mother supporting the march on the day, Mary Claasen, also from Hanover Park, said her 24-year-old son was gunned down on 27 January 2013.

“My son was shot two doors from our home. He was brutally murdered. All we want through this march is justice,” says Claasen.

The mother says she has found a small sense of justice when her son’s murderer was sentenced to 25 years in prison during October last year.

“His case was heard in the High Court and that is what I want for all murderers – for their cases to not go to a Magistrate’s Court, but straight to High Court. I thank God that my son’s killer was arrested on the same night minutes after my son was gunned down. Thankfully there was a police van in the area at the time and they caught the guy after they saw him throwing away his firearm. That is why we need more police visibility in our communities. I believe if that van wasn’t there that night, my son’s murderer would still be free,” she says.

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