The community of Freedom Park are still reeling after the killing of two women in the space of two days and a petition has been started to appeal the bail application of one of the men implicated in one of the cases.
Megan Jacobs, 31, was stabbed on Monday March 13, allegedly by her partner during an altercation. Megan’s neighbour Ursula Stanton, who was one of the last people to see her alive, said Megan had been arguing with her 24-year-old boyfriend.
She said she heard Megan scream. “I knew that something happened because she would only scream out like that if she was hurt. When I went out to see what was happening she was trying to run into my home and blood was pouring down her arm,” she said.
Megan asked Ms Stanton to call the ambulance.
“I tried to stop the bleeding but that’s when I saw the knife had penetrated through her body and the bleeding was overwhelming, her eyes rolled in the back of her head and I knew she wasn’t going to make it,” said Ms Stanton.
Megan died on her way to hospital.
In a separate case the body of Nashandra Riet, 28, was found in her home the following day on Tuesday March 14. Although it hadn’t been confirmed when she was killed, residents believe she had been dead for a few days as there were signs of decomposition when they discovered her body.
Western Cape police spokesperson Sergeant Wesley Twigg said Lansdowne police are investigating the circumstances surrounding both incidents.
“Lansdowne police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of an adult female who was stabbed in Freedom Park informal settlement. The victim was taken to a medical facility where she was declared deceased on arrival.”
He confirmed a 24-year-old man was arrested in connection with the murder and appeared in the Wynberg Magistrate’s court on Wednesday March 15.
Sergeant Twigg also confirmed the investigation of Nashandra’s case and said the suspect is yet to be arrested: “An adult female was stabbed to death on Tuesday evening. The suspect fled the scene and is yet to be arrested.” The suspect is believed to be Nashandra’s boyfriend.
Crystal Hendricks said they had been looking for the women and saw flies in the window of her shack and sent her grandson in to check because there was a foul smell. That’s when they discovered her body in front of her bed.
A petition, which was started by the Ottery Civic Association, had garnered just over 120 signatures by Monday March 20 in an attempt to oppose the bail of the suspect in Megan’s case.
The statement on the petition website reads: “We the Ottery Civic Association oppose any form of bail for the suspected killer of Megan Jacobs, be it bail at the police station where he is being held, or bail in the court where he is due to make his appearance. We would like to share with the police and the prosecuting authorities that we are against this suspect being granted bail and being given any chance to return to Freedom Park Informal Settlement where he could intimidate any witnesses.”
It further states that Freedom Park informal settlement has been a problem for too long. “Specifically because it’s an uncontrolled haven for criminals. This problem of criminals taking up residence in Freedom Park is growing bigger and bigger.”
Mitchell’s Plain CPF cluster chairperson, Rafique Foflonker, said the CPF in partnership with Lansdowne police and a victim support team have visited the families of both victims in Freedom Park and have hosted programmes with women from the settlement who are victims of gender-based violence (GBV) to give them information and support on what steps to take to protect themselves.
“We will be continuing these programmes at Freedom Park and we fully support the opposition to bail because any time we can prevent people who are habitual and repeat offenders from coming out of jail and causing more havoc then opposing bail makes a lot of sense,” said Mr Foflonker.
He said it would take a combined effort to help women who are victims of gender-based violence.
“All entities need to work to equip women and men to be better partners and have respect for each other. Boys need to be taught from a young age to respect girls and women and women need to look out for red flags in relationships which could put them in vulnerable situations.
“The cycle needs to be broken but the cycle is very much perpetuated by the environment around them. So there is no one answer or solution and it is a whole of society approach that needs to be addressed because I don’t believe that it is the government’s responsibility alone,” he said.
Community leader Dennis Buggs said victims are often quiet and don’t speak out when they are abused. “And women get an interdict and the men are told to stay a certain distance away from them but they are still in the same community which is dangerous. This is exactly what happened in Megan’s case and she still lost her life. It is a very sad situation for Freedom Park,” he said.
Women who need help with gender-based violence can contact the National Shelter Movement of SA helpline on 0800 001 005 or SMS, WhatsApp or send a Please Call me to 082 057 8600 or 082 058 2215 or 072 239 7147.