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“Am I next?”

Nearly 200 men and women gathered in front of the Parow civic centre last week to protest against the ongoing attacks and murders of young women in South Africa.

The peaceful gathering started at 09:00 in front of the civic centre’s entrance in Voortrekker Road.

Franchesca Walker, councillor for ward 26, told TygerBurger she was approached by the organisers of the mass march held in Cape Town to conduct a similar event in Parow.

“I arranged for a group of people and we got together here today (Thursday) to show our support. We had a good response from the passing motorists and pedestrians,” she says.

“Am I next?” and “Bring back the death penalty!” some of the demands read written on placards waved around by protesters.

“Stop the violence against women and children, enough is enough” and “We will not be silenced, do not look away,” some of the rest of the placards read that were held up high.

Carol Williams, a member of the Leonsdale Walking Bus who also supported the protest, says as a community they are tired of the abuse perpetrated against women.

“We are mothers, grandmothers and daughters and feel that it is an injustice that is being committed against us.

“We are here to stand-up against abuse against women and children,” she says.

About 30 of their members, mostly women, attended the protest.

Anne Williams, fellow member, says that they want the death penalty to be reinstated, while Delicia Africa, another member, demanded that the police offer women and children more support and protection.

“A crime will be committed today, but the next day the criminals will be out of jail. We are sick and tired that our children have to witness these things,” Rachel Casper, also a Walking Bus member and a mother of a 10-year-old boy, says.

The group was later on joined by the Tehillah Community Collaborative, a centre which provides 24 hour service in home based care.

Sister Magda Kleyn, founder of Tehillah, says as a woman, she pleads with government to intervene. 

“Am I next? I fear for my life. I do not even feel safe in my own house. We need to do something, there is no more time to talk.

“We need to push the criminals out, and we as a community need to work with the government,” Kleyn, says.

The centre also offers HIV and Aids support, early childhood development and youth support, shelter for the homeless and also operates as a drug rehabilitation centre.

“I also fear for the safety of our home-based carers. They must often go into houses and they do not know what is waiting for them there.”

Kleyn says the centre is currently working on developing a mobile app to help pin the location of their carers at any given time, and also track their movements. 

She says, however, that they need the financial support of private mobile cellular phone companies to help make this project a success.

“Our carers travel from Ruyterwacht to Matroosfontein and Elsies River, and often walk to their destinations. 

“About 80% of these carers are single mothers who have no choice, they need this job,” Kleyn says.

Mass marches were also held in Cape Town on Wednesday at the buildings of parliament and on Thursday at the Cape Town International Convention Centre where the World Economic Forum was held.

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