CT mom struggles to find justice after sons killed in gang violence

Many parents are having to go through life in the Western Cape never knowing if anyone will be brought to book for murdering their children.

Zelda Ferguson's sons died eight years apart as a result of gang violence. The first was shot and killed, the other stabbed. Speaking to Eyewitness News in June 2021, Ferguson said no one was arrested for either murder. Picture: Graig-Lee Smith/Eyewitness News

CAPE TOWN - It is difficult to begin to describe a mother’s pain when she loses a child. But the look in Zelda Ferguson's eyes speak volumes. She's lost not one but two sons to gang violence in the Western Cape's Cape Flats.

“Diego Ferguson was shot and killed eight years ago. Mistaken identity - that is what the court told us. We had no justice for him. Diego was 23-years-old. My second son, Keanu Ferguson, he was only 17-years-old. He was stabbed on 26 January 2020.”

The agony of loss is compounded by the knowledge that no one was arrested for her son’s killers.

“What I don’t understand is that there was no arrest made. My son’s case didn’t even go to the courts.”

For her, the past eight years have been devastating.

“I feel like a failure, losing two sons. I can’t even do anything to see that they get justice. It’s a daily battle to survive. I think that they deserve justice. I also want to make a point that none of my sons were gangsters.”

The Western Cape is a dangerous place to be a child - gangs shoot indiscriminately and without warning, and more often than not claim the lives of innocent people in the process. Many such crimes go unpunished, leaving loved ones to deal with the double blow of grief and disillusionment. This is a reality for many Cape Flats parents.

A remembrance poster for Zelda Ferguson's first son, Diego. He was shot and killed in 2013. Picture: Supplied

Ferguson is among scores of parents who've experienced this level of loss without seeing the justice they need to ease their pain.

“My plea is stop killing our children please. Stop killing our children. Our tears are filling the oceans, our children’s blood are filling the streets. I can’t take this anymore ... Many mothers across the Western Cape are yearning for justice in order for them to either begin the healing process or to start rebuilding their lives,” Ferguson said.

But she's adamant that she won't let it go and will continue to fight to see her sons' killers punished.

An identical remembrance poster for Zelda Ferguson's second son, Keanu, who was stabbed to death. This was released eight years after his brother's death. Picture: Supplied

Kashiefa Mohammed lost her son in 2017. He was stabbed to death on her birthday. Her son's killer, however, was tried and convicted for his murder.

But now the Hanover Park resident - who works to help mothers who have gone through similar trauma - might come face to face with the murderer again as there's a chance he'll be released from prison on parole before he finishes serving his jail sentence.

“I am happy about the justice that was served to my son but four years later, the perpetrator only served two-and-a-half years. And he wants a parole in my community, he wants to come out.”

Rafik Mohammed's mother, Kashiefa, has started a support group for parents who, like her, have lost children to gang violence. Picture: Supplied

Mohammed believes criminals who are guilty of serious crimes should serve their full sentences.

“Most of these killers, most of these rapists, [it isn't] right [for them] to come back into our community. Because it’s the same people who kill, it’s the same people who rape [again]. We want this justice system to support us and stand up for us mothers who lost children.”

She started a support group for mothers who have lost their children due to gang violence after her children's deaths in memory of her sons. Sadly, the group continues to grow.

The Western Cape's portfolio committee on community safety chair, Reagen Allen, said to Eyewitness News that they dealt with women like Ferguson and Mohammed all the time. And while the South African Police Service (SAPS) didn't fall within their ambit, he said the committee did run oversight activities and engaged with the SAPS in the province to try and improve the outcomes for Cape Flats children.

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