Murdered 20-year-old remembered on Mandela Day

Khayelitsha community hold memorial for Bongiwe Ninini

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Photo of a woman with a candle
Khosilina Ninini lights a candle in memory of her daughter Bongiwe. Photo: Thembela Ntongana

While many were celebrating Mandela Day, Bongiwe Ninini’s family remembered the day she was found raped and murdered, her body dumped in an open drain in Site C, Khayelitsha on 18 July last year.

She was 20 years old at the time. The drain is still open.

According to the community, Ninini was not the first person to be raped or murdered on the vacant land where her body was found. As GroundUp reported in April 2015, the site was intended for 500 low cost houses and a shopping mall in a deal made between the City of Cape Town and Old Mutual in 2008. But Old Mutual said that due to strong objections to the housing development by various groups in Khayelitsha, the development had been stalled.

On Monday, the Social Justice Coalition (SJC) and Khayelitsha residents held a memorial service at the place where Ninini’s body had been found. They then marched to Ntlanganiso High School for a candlelight ceremony.

Her mother, Khosilina Ninini, said she was thankful that people still remembered her daughter. She was unable to hold back tears and was comforted by family members throughout the ceremony.

“We are happy that the case is going to high court. All we are asking for is justice,” said Khosilina.

She said her daughter was a happy person who was always laughing and loved people. “She was my last born child and she used to help me out a lot. She would do people’s hair and give me the money when I needed to buy something at home,” said Khosilina Ninini.

Bongiwe Ninini had obtained a certificate in the hospitality industry and she was looking for a job where she could use her love of cooking.

SJC community support officer Nomthetho Kilo told the community not to fight crime by taking the law into their own hands, but to work hand in hand with the police.

“Today is a sad day as we remember Bongiwe. She was a young girl who easily trusted people she lived with. It is sad that now you can not even trust anyone … We must follow up on matters that we are not happy about with SAPS and follow up on cases so that justice prevails. We must stand up as a community … We demand to feel safe in our communities,” said Kilo.

In memory of Ninini, a group of children in Khayelitsha, Sakha iKamva, performed poetry and a play with a story similar to what might have happened to Ninini the day she was murdered. Nini’s mother again broke into tears and lowered her head, unable to watch.

Khayelitsha cluster commander Major General Johan Brand addressed the residents of Site C who attended the memorial service.

He said, “With the assistance of the community, we were able to arrest four people. Three of the accused have been linked to the crime through DNA and the murder weapon has also been found .” 

The four accused will appear in court on 5 August.

Photo of an open drain
The open drain that Bongiwe Ninini’s body was stuffed in after she was raped and murdered
TOPICS:  Crime Gender Rape

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