Mother honours teen victim

Melonie van Neslon started an NPO in honour of her son Courtney Jackson who was shot and killed in Steenberg three years ago.

A Steenberg mother has turned her pain into power on the third year anniversary of her son’s death.

Courtney Jackson, 16, was shot and killed on his way to the shop not far from his home in Sonata Street, Steenberg on March 10 in 2018. He was one of two people hit in a drive-by shooting and died on his way to hospital.

Three years later Melonie van Nelson is still heartbroken about her son’s death but vowed to keep his memory alive and concentrate on the positives instead of the negative.

Friends and family cooked pots of food to feed those in need in Lavender Hill and Steenberg.

She started an NPO called Arise and shine community outreach project through which she feeds hundreds of people from her own pocket and donations. It started with a feeding scheme in 2019. “I then got in contact with more mothers whose innocent children were killed. We shared that hurt and started the organisation to help children to seek for a better life than the gang life. At the moment things are out of hand in our communities so we want to bring about change.

“We want to create safe space for children and youth to come and feel loved and safe,” said Ms Van Nelson.

The group plans to start after-school classes, extracurricular activities, workshops, skills development, baking classes, learnerships and several other projects.

On the day of the shooting, Courtney saved the life of a six-year-old girl whom he shielded and took to safety when shots were fired at them.

On Saturday March 13, a few days after the anniversary of his death, Ms Van Nelson, along with family and friends had an outreach programme at their home where they fed the most vulnerable from Lavender Hill and Steenberg. This is also where they plan to make the centre – pending land use approval by the City of Cape Town.

On Saturday March 13 the Arise and shine outreach programme helped the community of Lavender Hill. The group hopes to have more such projects in future.

Ms Van Nelson said the event was fitting because Courtney was a hero who helped people. “This is a way for us to keep his memory alive but also to give back to the community.”

For more information about the programme or to donate, contact Melonie on 078 917 5664.