MOSSEL BAY NEWS - The petite young woman sat alone on the hard wooden bench of Courtroom C in the Mossel Bay Magistrate's Court.
Nosisi Tiko was neatly dressed and well composed.
No one probably knew or cared that she was the heartbroken mother of the 22-year-old Yongama Tiko, the latest victim of gang violence in KwaNonqaba.
Yongama was brutally killed on Sunday morning, 30 June at approximately 02:40. He was stabbed 27 times with a sharp object and died in hospital as a result.
"Tell our community that the insanity must stop. Tell the parents they must talk to their children; they must know their children's friends. Ask the parents to deal decisively with their children who leave home with knives and other dangerous weapons. We have to stop the killing. As parents, we have to take responsibility," neighbours of the Tiko family implored.
"How can we claim human rights in this country if we destroy the rights of others?"
Yongama's only mistake was to exercise his Constitutional and human rights of freedom of association and freedom of movement. Earlier on the day of his murder he attended a church meeting and assisted with setting up the sound equipment for a church gathering in the Isalathiso Primary School hall.
Territorial gangs made him pay with his life for then visiting his family in KwaNonqaba. Yongama lived with his mother and three siblings in Sixaxeni Street in Asla Park. According to a neighbour, his sister of only six years old has since grown quiet and now keeps to herself. Yongama was the eldest of four children. He is described as a well behaved young man who finished school at Indwe Secondary last year.
He was supposed to set off for Johannesburg to qualify as a welder on the Tuesday after he was killed. He had dreams and aspirations. As the gang of attackers, ten of whom are under age, apparently would have it, Yongama seemingly had "no right" to walk the streets of KwaNonqaba, an area the gang claims as their territory.
When they caught up with him while he was walking home alone, this was seen as reason enough for him to be stabbed 27 times. The perpetrators then made off with Yongama's shoes and cellphone.
Initially 13 people were accused of murder, assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm, and serious robbery. One of the minor accused was since released.
The courtroom was packed with family and friends of the people accused of Yongama's murder. Before district court magistrate Ketye entered, the courtroom was abuzz with banter as the accused filed into the stand. The accused appeared relaxed, as if the gravity of what has transpired had not yet sunk in.
Most of the accused are learners at Indwe Secondary School. Several reports of gang activity at this and other schools in the greater Mossel Bay area were reported in recent months. Since the start of the current school term, the police have increased their presence and official programmes have been launched to address the gang activity in the area.
Court proceedings conducted in English were translated into isiXhosa. It was only when Nosisi Tiko heard the cold facts of her child's murder being repeated in isiXhosa that her composure was shattered. Her cries were heartbreaking. In contrast, the accused all stood and stoically looked ahead of them.
A court officer helped Nosisi out of the courtroom. In the corridors she managed to regain her composure. "I have nothing to say to the family of any of the accused; they never even recognised me or sympathised with me when I attended the court proceedings," Nosisi told the Mossel Bay Advertiser.
It was also in the corridor that people questioned whether the authorities over the years did all they could to handle the growing gangsterism and criminality at school level.
Not only one life
"Not only one life was lost in this incident, but the lives of all involved - also that of the families of the accused - were ruined."
Kotye was requested by the legal representative of the accused to recuse himself from the official bail application as he had dealt with the inquiry. An official bail application will be heard on Wednesday.
The neighbours of the Tiko family insist that the young man was not a member of any gang or grouping.
Yongama and his friends referred to each other as meza - neighbour - says Merriman Skwatsha.
Tomorrow, Saturday 13 July, his family will bury Yongama Tiko in Qumbo in the Eastern Cape.
"Yongama was a nice boy, helpful, he never talked back," the Skwatshas said.
The investigating officer, Sgt Ella Mentoor, initially had virtually no information to solve the case. She thanks the community for taking a stand against gang-related violence and for making valuable information available following a report in the Advertiser. With the help of eye witnesses several of the accused were identified and a number of the weapons that were used were retrieved.
Mentoor was assisted by Sgt Campher, Wo Barnard and Sgt Hector (K9) in making the arrests.
The court's detective court case officer commended Sgt Mentoor for the good work done in compiling a neat, proper and chronologically presented docket within the 48-hour period. "Compliments were received from the senior screening prosecutor on the quality and neatness of the docket.
"Apart from forensic and post mortem evidence, most of the investigation is completed. She (Mentoor) also followed the case through by attending the screening process to ensure successful enrolment of all accused. The investigating officer did her job well and should be praised, therefore."
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