Cape Town – Addressing the nation on Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the country is facing two pandemics, Covid-19 and gender-based violence.
While the world is in pandemonium due to the second wave of Covid-19 with its new variant, others suffer in silence, cry loudly and face insurmountable challenges in their own homes and communities.
A Cape Town family is still in shock after their 12-year-old daughter was brutally taken from them in the most horrific way possible.
Michaela Williams, of Pelican Park, was an average young girl who loved her family and especially enjoyed playing with her friends, but a man she knew would end her life in a way that shocked the community.
Michaela disappeared just after 7:30 p.m. on January 7, 2020, after finishing dinner and going outside to play. Her mother immediately informed the authorities after she could not find her daughter and a search was carried out.
Candice van der Rheede, director of the Western Cape Missing Persons Unit (WCMPU), was notified and her team in the Pelican Park area immediately set out to find the girl.
Speaking to the African News Agency (ANA), Van der Rheede said his team searched everywhere until police informed them that the suspect had indicated the area where he left the lifeless body of Michaela.
“My team in the area went looking for her non-stop until the police told us that this monster said where she was,” she said.
Steven Fortune was subsequently arrested and on December 2, 2020, pleaded guilty to murder, two counts of rape and kidnapping of Michaela.
He had lured the girl to a vacant lot not far from her house, at the corner of Ninth Avenue and Schaap Road.
According to the summary of the facts presented to the High Court in the Western Cape, Fortune strangled Michaela with her hands and she resisted, knocking her glasses off. He then ripped the tank top she was wearing from her body and used the fabric to tie her wrists behind her back.
Fortune then penetrated Michaela’s vagina and anus, and when she tried to scream he used his own skirt to strangle her in an attempt to keep her silent.
He then threw two concrete blocks on top of Michaela’s head and covered her body with a blanket before leaving the scene of the crime.
Fortune had previously been convicted of the attempted murder and rape of a young girl who had managed to survive the ordeal even after slitting her throat. She managed to get home and name her attacker.
Now, a year after Michaela’s death, her family has no hope of celebrating any small milestones with her; instead, they can only celebrate his memory.
On the first anniversary of her death, neighbors, friends and family all celebrated the bubbly young girl while taking into account all Covid-19 protocols.
With songs and dances, Michaela’s friends stood with flowers, doing what no child should – mourn the loss of their young friend.
“We want answers from the state as to why this man was released from prison. I feel that the communities are being deceived. We are not approached about these releases, but we are the ones who have to live with these criminals, ”Van der Rheede told ANA.
She said celebrating Michaela’s life was touching and she was almost speechless because “what do we say?”
“All I could tell his mother was that it was better to love and have lost than never to have loved at all. Death is inevitable, but some, especially our beautiful children, are already stolen from us, ”said Van der Rheede.
She said she personally held the Corrections Department responsible for Michaela’s death because if he had remained in jail she would still be alive today.
Conviction proceedings against Fortune are scheduled to begin on January 29.
As we remain wrapped in a blanket of fear during this pandemic, let’s also lend an ear to listen, a hand to help, and keep an eye on our children for their own safety.
As the saying goes… you need a village.
African News Agency (ANA)