The community came out in droves to pay their last respects to 12-year-old Michaela Serena Williams at her funeral held at the Rivers Tabernacle Church, in Lotus River, on Saturday January 25.
Michaela went missing from her home in Crane Street, New Horizon, on Tuesday January 7.
Her body was found in Schaapkraal on Thursday January 9. She had been brutally raped and murdered.
A 48-year-old man, who lived in the same street, was arrested for the murder and made his first court appearance on Monday January 13. The case was postponed until Tuesday April 14 for further investigation.
The man accused had been arrested in 2005 for the rape and attempted murder of an eight-year-old girl in Tafelsig, Mitchell’s Plain. He was released on parole a year ago and was living with his mother in Crane Street.
At the funeral, the church was packed with Michaela’s family, neighbours and friends.
Ward councillor Gerry Gordon, who had joined in the search for Michaela, paid tribute to the young girl. “This is unacceptable”, she said.
“I want to say to the community we cannot accept that this is reality. When we step outside our homes, we need to be safe. We have unsavoury characters (lurking) within our communities but they are in our families as well. We can’t accept this and say ‘maar dit gebeur orals nie’.”
Ms Gordon said unless people become active citizens against these criminal acts these crimes will continue.
“We need to speak up as communities and as families and friends. We shouldn’t be sitting in a funeral structure.”
A big group of neighbourhood walking bus members came to support the family.
The group’s spokesperson Gail Johnston, said: “A little angel was taken away from us and we saw her face while growing up. From eight years old she attended our holiday programme. For four years we saw Michaela who was such a vibrant and loving child. That’s the only way we will remember her.”
Philip Bam, spokesperson for Grassy Park Community Police Forum (CPF), said the community should work together to prevent this from happening again.
Mr Bam said it was not right that parents should be burying their children.
He said there was something wrong in the community when they had to stand in front of a coffin of a young girl whose life had been taken by someone in the same community.
“I want to say to our men and boys, keep your hands off of our girls. These girls must become our future mothers who must raise our nation.”
He said it was time that communities went back to the time that “my child is your child and your child is my child”.
He appealed to the parents: “Don’t allow your sons to become the perpetrators. Too many mothers hide the evils of their children. Let this be a lesson. The correction must be taught at home.
“I just want to end off by saying while we are sad this morning there is joy in heaven as she (Michaela) had joined the saints.”
Michaela was buried at the Klip Road cemetery in Grassy Park.