‘This is only the beginning’

2017-05-02 09:19
Lucinda Evans (in front left), founder of Philisa Abafazi Bethu, leads a crowd of supporters outside Wynberg Magistrate's Court where a man accused of killing 13-year-old Rene Roman appeared.

Lucinda Evans (in front left), founder of Philisa Abafazi Bethu, leads a crowd of supporters outside Wynberg Magistrate's Court where a man accused of killing 13-year-old Rene Roman appeared. (TIYESE JERANJI)

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“Your child is my child. Your pain is my pain.”

These words were chanted by the crowd that came to the court to oppose bail for the man accused of murdering 13-year-old Rene Tracy Roman from Lavender Hill.

Roman was missing for 11 days before her half-naked body was found in a bungalow a few houses from her home.

The 50-year-old accused of her murder appeared in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court last Tuesday where he abandoned his bail application.

After hearing that he would not be proceeding with his bail application those who came out in support of the case burst out in ululation, saying they felt victorious.

Some residents of Mitchell’s Plain also came out to the court because her death is part of an issue close to their hearts.

In a similar case, Stacha Arendse (11) from Tafelsig was murdered and her body was found along Swartklip Road after a far-reaching search for her. Since these murders the two communities have been supporting each other.

A 31-year-old man who was arrested for Stacha’s murder will appear in the Mitchell’s Plain Magistrate’s Court tomorrow.
Lucinda Evans, founder of Philisa Abafazi Bethu NGO, says the fact that the man accused of Rene’s murder did not apply for bail is a success for them.

“This is only the beginning. Let’s get the momentum going. We are happy that he is not getting bail. If he gets bail, how safe will our children be?

He must stay and rot in jail where he belongs.

“We will see this case through. We are still calling for a speedy trial, we don’t want to be coming here over and over. We are calling for two life sentences and he must not get parol,” says Evans.

Evans says she was told that the members of the public who gathered outside the court to support the court case were not allowed there unless they had permission. However, that didn’t dampen their spirit, she says.

“We will continue to come here and show our support. I’m told we should get permission to be here. He didn’t get permission to kill our child, why must we be given trouble for just being outside? Why must we get permission to defend our child? We will continue coming here and being peaceful.”

The case was postponed to 23 June for further investigation.

To make the community’s plea stronger that the accused not be granted bail, Evans started a 100-letter campaign.

“The response has been overwhelming. We got a lot of letters and we have submitted some of them. I still have to get to the other ones. This just goes to show how people feel about the crimes on our children.”

Following the death of Rene, a search group has been formed in her name to act immediately should another child go missing. The group’s members have been meeting and there will be training for those who have volunteered to be a part of the group.

The search and rescue operations of the group will be a twofold process, says Evans.

“The group will have to be up and searching within the golden hour. The golden hour is when the parents report that a child is missing. The team will be activated to search immediately. We know the police stations don’t have the resources available immediately and with cases like this we can’t wait 24 hours. We will start the search as soon as we can.

“The rescue team will also be intervening where children are at unsavoury houses. They will go in there and fetch those children and get help for them and also reunite them with their families,” she says.

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