Hundreds of residents of Port Elizabeth’s northern areas lined the streets in Schauderville on Monday to show support for the family of a 26-year-old Korsten mother whose mutilated body was found lying in an open field in Thornton Street on Friday.
The peaceful protest and memorial, which took place in the same street where the body of Shenice Jonathan was found, saw nearly 1,000 people standing in solidarity to raise awareness of the scourge of gender-based violence.
The group, clad in black, also called for justice for the brutal murder of Jonathan.
Jonathan, a mother of a 19-month-old baby girl, was last seen by her family on Thursday at about 7.30pm, when she left her home to visit a friend in Schauderville.
Her body was found at about 7.45am the next day by a resident on his way to work.
On Sunday, Jonathan’s brother, Shervargo, 38, said the family was struggling to deal with what had happened to his baby sister.
“It has broken us as a family — I don’t have the specific words to say.
“We are shattered into a thousand pieces. It was the most horrible death.
“What hurt most was the way she was killed.
“She was my baby sister. She didn’t deserve it.
“We are broken, beyond broken,” Shervargo said.
According to him, three people had been looking for his sister on Thursday night while she was out visiting a friend.
“Three individuals were looking for her and not on a casual basis — they were looking for her to hurt her,” Shervargo said.
He said he had informed the police about the three men but was still waiting to hear back from them.
The memorial and protest on Monday, organised by Jonathan’s family and close friends, highlighted the concerns of residents regarding the rise in crime in the area, particularly the increasing gender-based violence.
Apostle Ruth Williams, who led the proceedings as residents paid homage to Jonathan and her family, said it was time something was done to address the crime in the area.
“Enough is enough. Enough of these killings of our young women and children,” she said.
“We need to stand together as one voice and take action.
“Big changes need to be made and we are calling on the government and the local government to step up and protect us and our children.”
Schauderville resident Nadia Peterson, who spoke during the proceedings, said the brutal murder of Jonathan was an eye-opener for everyone, especially the youth.
“I encourage every one of the Schauderville youth to wake up.
“We will not stop here — it is time to make a noise,” she said.
Ward 11 councillor Abraham Isaacs said it was time the northern areas residents, particularly in Schauderville, stood together in combating crime in the area.
“This is not about politics, it is about us standing together as one.
“We must take ownership of these things and take things into our own hands.
“We need to put our differences aside, stand together and take things forward,” Isaacs said.
Ward 37 councillor Georgina Faldtman said her heart bled for Jonathan and she could not keep quiet any more.
“We need action. There is no more time to sit around a table and discuss gender-based violence,” Faldtman said.
A family member, who asked not to be named, said Jonathan’s mother, Merica, was still too traumatised to speak about what had happened to her daughter.
“She still needs time to come to terms with what happened,” he said.
On Sunday, Jonathan’s cousin Clareze Adams, 25, said she was heartbroken about the loss of her confidant and best friend.
“Shenice was always friendly and outgoing.
“If you felt held down, Shenice would help you up.
“She was always there to make you feel better.
“Everyone’s heart has been left with a very big hole in it.
“The loss I feel and the emptiness, no-one can understand,” Adams said.
Claims that Jonathan had been raped and that her murder was a hate crime could not be confirmed.
Police spokesperson Col Priscilla Naidu said a postmortem would determine if she had been raped, however it was known at this stage that she had been stabbed several times.
She said that contrary to claims on social media that five people had been arrested in connection with the murder, no-one had been arrested yet.
Police are investigating.