Mom of beheaded teen to set up foundation offering trauma counselling

Gaynor Adams (right) is too emotional to speak after her son's killer was sentenced in the high court. (News24)
Gaynor Adams (right) is too emotional to speak after her son's killer was sentenced in the high court. (News24)

Cape Town - Even though it's been three years since Gaynor Adams' teenage son Lee was killed in a brutal beheading in Cape Town, the trauma is still fresh.

"My son Zion and I didn't really have counselling. It is like it happened yesterday," she recently told News24. This was ahead of his killer's sentencing on Wednesday.

The Western Cape High Court sentenced 20-year-old Aljar Swartz to 22 years in jail.

While Adams was too emotional to speak outside court, she made it clear beforehand that she did not want her son's death to be in vain.

She was in the process of setting up the Lee Adams Foundation to make access to counselling easier for those in traumatic situations.

"So many people, especially children, have lost siblings in a bad way. Or their parents have died. We don't know as grown-ups what these kids go through and what they might need."

Constant reminders

Swartz admitted to targeting the teen in 2013 so he could sell the body parts to a sangoma.

The 15-year-old victim's face and neck had stab wounds, bruises and abrasions.

His body was found in an abandoned school while his head was later found in Swartz's backyard.

The killing rocked the whole family.

Gaynor said her younger son Zion, 8, was a constant reminder of what had happened, as his smile and the way he said things reminded her of Lee.

The effects of the murder on Zion were another reminder, she said.

Zion sometimes burst into tears without warning or withdraws from conversation.

Hoping for a 'bearable' life

Gaynor said offers of counselling from the State never came to fruition.

Western Cape National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said the NPA itself did not offer counselling.

But it did refer people to various non-governmental organisations and the social development department when necessary, he said.

The Lee Adams Foundation is expected to offer ongoing counselling and other forms of support to those in need.

Reflecting on her experience, Gaynor said her need for therapy "was to make life more bearable" and "to somehow go on".

"You think you are moving forward but then it hits you again. If I had proper counselling, it would have been better or easier," she said.

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