“Am I next?” That was the question on everyone’s lips on Friday afternoon at the home of former EFF General Secretary Godrich Gardee, where a candlelight memorial service was being held in honor of his murdered daughter Hillary.
Before the brief service, hundreds of Women, accompanied by a few men, marched from Laerskool Laeveld and sang battle songs.
Upon arriving at the Gardee House, the mourners lit candles, which they believed represented hope and the light they most wish to leave behind would Gardee homestead.
“Every one of us here is worried and wondering if we’re next. Women don’t feel safe in the country and they shouldn’t be. We have to stand up and make sure we put an end to this,” Mbombela Mayor Sibongile Makushe said as she addressed the mourners.
Makushe said , she is not speaking as a civil servant, but as a family friend who knew the family well.
“Hillary was such a kind and generous young woman. She was one of the hardest working young people I know. She had big dreams and put so much work into making them a reality,” said Makushe.
Poppy Mailola, EFF Deputy Secretary General, said gender-based violence is part of the life of every woman in the country.
“Women live in fear and with every reported case one wonders if they are next. This cannot be the life of women in this country,” she said.
Commission Commissioner for Gender Equality Lindiwe Ntuli-Tloubatla shared the shocking statistics gender disparity Cases of violence (GBV) in Mbombela.
According to Ntuli-Tloubatla, more than 5,000 cases of GBV have been reported in the Mbombela region in recent months. She also spoke about the backlog of forensic results.
“Justice delayed is justice denied. Victims and their families must ensure that justice is served quickly,” she said.
EFF and family spokesman Sinawo Thambo said the family had not received any news from the police, adding that they were disappointed that the police were breaking the deadlines they had set themselves.
This was after they announced a 72-hour operation to catch Hillary’s killer.
Hillary disappeared with her three-year-old adopted daughter on April 29 after a shopping spree. This was 6 km from her home.
Her daughter was found on a road about a kilometer from where she lived. She told strangers who found her that her mother was “fighting” – signaling that there had been a fight her mother was involved in.
On May 2nd Hillary’s dad took the fight to social media to ask people to help find her. The next day, Hillary’s body was found by woodworkers in a field outside of Mbombela. She had been shot, apparently in the back of the head.
Family reports said Hillary had sent herself 1,300 Rand after her kidnapping.
The 28-year-old, who ran her own IT business, will be buried on Saturday.
Thambo called on the planners to attend the funeral to give a dignified tribute hold.
“If you are told the room is full, please respect that and force your way in. We don’t want Hillary’s funeral to be a spectacle. We don’t want a rush,” he said.
He said the family wanted to give Hillary a dignified and fitting farewell that reflected her generous and kind nature.
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