Justice for Nehemiah

Paternal grandmother Denise Bent joined pickets outside of court.

While the family of 11-year-old Nehemiah Classen planned his funeral, his alleged killer appeared in court last week.

Nehemiah was shot while on his way back to his home in Parkers Walk in Parkwood. He was caught in gang crossfire on Monday September 7 and died the following day at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital when his life support machines were turned off.

On Friday September 11 family and friends picketed outside Wynberg Magistrate’s Court where two men appeared in connection with his death.

Maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Classen, said Nehemiah was a lovely and friendly child and his death had affected a lot of people.

“Nehemiah crept into a lot of people’s hearts because he was a good child and we never had any trouble with him. His death has hit us hard and I will miss him very much,” she said.

Paternal grandmother Denice Bent said her grandson was outspoken and adventurous.

“He wanted to explore, figure things out and loved challenges. Whenever anyone felt down, he was always the one to cheer us up and whenever someone was wrong he would not think twice about reprimanding them,” she said.

Ms Bent said he was a fighter till the end. “We had a lot of hope that he would survive because he was a fighter. He fought to stay alive when he was shot but the damage from the bullet was too great,” she said.

Desiree Daniels, the mother of seven-year-old Ezra Daniels, who was shot and killed in Parkwood three years ago while playing with his friends, was also at court to support the family.

“I feel it with the mother of Nehemiah. It’s like old wounds that have been opened again. We are showing our support because she needs all the support she can get. I feel the pain with her,” said Ms Daniels.

Memorial services were held throughout last week after the news of his death spread through the community.

A Parkers Walk resident, who did not want to be named, said the gang situation in Parkwood was exacerbated by people who supported gang activities.

“These gangsters are shooting while our children are on their way to school and coming from school and all hours of the day. Our children aren’t safe playing in the street, in their own yards or even going to the shops.

“The parents and family of the gangsters hide the drugs and guns and cover up for them and that causes friction in the community so there is a divide. While a lot of people want the gangs out and report the gang activity, they are then threatened but people are fed up, our children are dying in the streets and it’s time we take a stand,” she said.

The case of the man who appeared on Friday has been postponed to later this week – another suspect was arrested on the day of the shooting.

Grassy Park police station spokesperson Captain Wynita Kleinsmith said the second man handed himself over at the police station following pressure from the community.

Nehemiah will be buried tomorrow, Thursday September 17.

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