The Social Justice Coalition’s vigil at Solomon Mahlangu Hall in Makhaza attracted about 300 people who share a concern for safety in their communities. Vigilante killings have been responsible for the death of eleven people in Khayelitsha, where “mob justice” has become an increasingly frequent response to the State’s failure to adequately curb crime and prosecute criminals. Many of these killings have taken place in and around Makhaza, where crime is particularly bad.
Dancing and singing could be heard as the attendees waited for the ceremony to begin. Among the issues raised were calls for the proposed commission of inquiry into crime in Khayelitsha. Imam Rashied Omar of the Western Cape Religious Leaders Forum opened the ceremony speaking on the importance of pressuring our government leaders to tackle the situation of justice inequality in Khayelitsha. Then, amidst burning candles that were distributed to the attendees, solemn remembrance of those killed filled the room. Many youth from the community attended, among them members from SJC’s partner organizations, Equal Education and the Treatment Action Campaign. Members of the community were given an opportunity to express their concerns. All were angry with government for failing to protect residents of Khayelitsha, but also asserted that taking the law into our own hands is not the answer.
The vigil came to an end following a sermon from Reverend Mpande from the South African Council of Churches with a final moment of silence to remember those killed in the attacks, but also the countless others who fall victim to crime on a daily basis.
A short video of the vigil – produced by Michael Duffett – can be viewed here.
Article by Janice Haro and Mayola Charles