South Africans at home and abroad are coming together in solidarity in a call for an end to violence against anyone – be they foreign, local, white, black…or any shade of the rainbow nation in between.
South Africa has been rocked recently with a fresh spate of horrific xenophobic attacks in KwaZulu-Natal and Johannesburg (which left at least seven dead), as well as the murder of Port Elizabeth (PE) teacher Jayde Panayiotou (28) whose body was found this morning. Just two days ago farmer Allan Clarke (62) was murdered nearby in Sundowner, Addo. And an 86-year-old nun Sister Gertrud Tiefenbacher was found raped and murdered on Sunday morning in Ixopo, KZN, where she had worked for 60 years to help people in the community. In Soweto three-month-pregnant Charlotte Ramohai was shot in front of her two children for her car. The stories are endless. And they cross all colour borders.
Today Tee Nondzama-Mbeksie told SAPeople “our family and relatives are sad to experience the same [as Jayde’s family]…a missing family member – Nosipho Popo Booi Mfenyana. Our hearts are heavy now because noone knows where she is, the police are busy searching.” Tee asks that people please like the page that has been set up to find her – click here.
But as sombre as the news is…and it is…the spirit of South Africans is rising as people unite to put an end to a violence they can no longer stand.
Tonight in a wonderful spirit of solidarity over four thousand people took part in a spontaneous walk in memory of #JaydePanayiotou and to march against crime. Many reported having tears running down their cheeks throughout the march as ‘Amazing Grace’ was played on both the bagpipes and sung.
The ‘Justice for Jayde’ walk started at Kabega Police Station and went to Makro and back. Anne-Marie Victor filmed a video (scroll down to view) in which you can hear the marchers chanting “no more violence”. A moment of silence was also held for Clarke.
Afterwards a Facebook user, Xolisa Gift Matshoba, summed up most people’s feelings when he wrote on Algoa FM News’ FB page: “Rainbow nation unified by one’s death. Let’s finally stand up against crime in our communities. It’s not about race or gender. RIP Jayde…”
A FB post by South African policeman Ryno De Villiers went viral today with his message in which he said “today our society is rocked to the bone and hurt beyond belief by the death of a woman that we did not know. But now this experience has taught us all that we mean much more to one another than we want to believe.” (See full message below.)
Last night a candlelit vigil was held at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg to show support for victims of xenophobia, and those that could not be there – like SarahJane DiMichele (see pic below) who now lives in Canada – lit candles and shared photos on social media to say #NoToXenophobia.
Earlier today the Foundation for Human Rights issued a statement on the xenophobic violence in South Africa saying the SA Government “must realise its constitutional mandate to promote and protect the rights of all people living in South Africa” and called for “an immediate end to the senseless violence which has led to a loss of life and injuries to the vulnerable. We call upon the government to end the impunity which makes the violence possible and all stakeholders to take action to combat xenophobia and to promote a safe South Africa.”
Throughout the last week, South Africans around the world – like Lisa Parmenter below – have posted photos declaring their support to stop xenophobia with statements written across the photos declaring they too are foreigners in other lands…from the UK to China, Oman to Italy.
Together South Africans are standing up to say “no more violence”. And it sounds like this time they really mean it. South Africans are united against one common enemy. Violence.
Watch Video – Justice for Jayde Panayiotou Walk in Port Elizabeth, South Africa
“Justice for Jayde” walk from Kabega SAPS to Makro and back.
Posted by Anne-Marie Victor on Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Facebook Post by Ryno De Villiers:
I am a policeman for 23 years now. I have been there, done that, got the t–shirt. We all know the saying.
Yesterday I did not know the name of Jayde Panayiotou. And many times before have myself and many of my colleagues dealt with cases like these.
And many times before have we had to deal with the same result. It comes to you as just a job.
But on Tuesday 21 April 2015 I was not involved in the matter. Just another day on the job.
And when I logged in to my facebook and the news broke, the smile on that beautiful woman’s face told me this is going to be different altogether. From that first post until the confirming post just after 11 on Wednesday 22 April 2015 things became very different. For the first time I allowed myself to share in the emotional outpour of the public and users of social media.
And for the first time in many years, my heart broke for the family and friends and those who did not even know her. That smile stuck, the name sang a tune in my head and the heartfelt concern of all involved was burning my heart to bits.
And now that we know and that she has been found the raw anger and sorrow can be seen and felt all through the relevant social comments.
And one can feel the senselessness of it all is draining the moral of our beings.
Jayde Panayiotou, you have touched the hearts of thousands without even knowing any of us.
Your life has brought together people of Port Elizabeth in a very sad way.
Now I wish to say this. [Regardless] of the final outcome of this all, we all must realise the importance of standing together as humans. Let us not allow criminals like these to break our spirit.
Let us take back our streets and let us start opening our eys and our hearts and let us not be intimidated by the primitive hunger of criminals to take what does not belong to them.
If we as a people can pull together in the search for this woman, what more can the community not accomplish when we simply put our minds to it.
So today Jayde Panayiotou I wish you peace and rest .
For today I know that you have touched the hearts of many and your spirit will remain amongst men who must stand up and be counted so that we all can be safe and that we can protect the moral values of society and respect the value of life.
Today our society is rocked to the bone and hurt beyond belief by the death of a woman that we did not know. But now this experience has taught us all that we mean much more to one another than we want to believe.
I do hope and pray that all left behind might soon find peace in their hearts and that the parties responsible will be found and correctly judged.
Ryno De Villiers
Update Friday 24 April 2015, 8h00: a massive peaceful march was held in Johannesburg yesterday and another march will commence at 10h00 in Tshwane today.