6 April 2017

South Africa: 100 Letters to Demand Justice for Murdered Rene Roman

Letters from parents expressing their heartache at the murder of a Lavender Hill girl and calling for justice for the young victim have started flooding in after a local children's rights activist launched an appeal calling for the courts to expedite the murder trial of young Rene Roman's alleged killer.

The 100 Letter Campaign is a petition started by Lucinda Evans, founder of NPO Philisa Abafazi Bethu (Heal Our Women), to "give the same courtesy to a child of Lavender Hill as they did to Shrien Dewani".

The community worker was among those who for almost two weeks tirelessly searched for the body of the 13-year-old girl who disappeared on March 10 while on her way to a mobile shop a few roads away.

Evans rounded up Lavender Hill residents who combed through the area, surrounding communities as well as a nearby nature reserve, and helped organise a reward of R20 000 for information about Rene's whereabouts.

Her decomposing body was found 11 days after her disappearance in a Wendy house in St Agatha Street, the same road in which she lived with her family.

She was half naked and covered with a carpet. Her hands and feet had been tied.

Andrew Plaatjies was arrested two weeks ago and is charged with her murder.

'We want this trial over and done with'

Evans, herself a mother, said about 400 women attended proceedings at the Wynberg Magistrate's Court on Tuesday where the 50-year-old accused applied for bail.

The campaign is to petition against his release and to demand a speedy trial as well as a minimum of two life sentences without the possibility of parole if he is convicted.

It is hoped that at least 100 letters from the public will be collected and handed to the magistrate as well as the Chief Justice when Plaatjies' bail application is heard on April 25.

"We want this trial over and done with," Evans said.

"Court proceedings drag on forever. I don't want her family to have to attend court for two years to be traumatised by listening to what a monster did to their child."

She appealed to everyone - from parents to rape survivors and people who have lost loved ones violently - to write about their experiences and join the call for justice.

Call for submissions

Evans said the wheels of justice should turn as quickly for Rene as they did for Dewani, who was in 2014 cleared of plotting the murder of his wife Anni while on holiday in SA in 2010.

She referred to the murder of 10-year-old Misholine Jantjies of Capricorn, near Lavender Hill, who was stabbed to death in a park in 2015.

"It has been two years and the trial hasn't even started. [Philisa Abafazi Bethu] had attended every court appearance for a solid year, but [the accused Montell Campher] is yet to be screened at Valkenberg Hospital," Evans said.

She urged anyone wanting to share their stories or support to send their submissions to admin@philisaabafazi.org by 20 April.

Source: News24

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