Memorial service honours slain youth

A memorial service for the three Hangberg youngsters who lost their lives to violence this year was held at the Hangberg civic centre on Youth Day, Friday June 16.

Organised by the City of Cape Town and provincial government, the service was attended by family and friends of Junaid Phillips, Deswin Brown and Ryno Solomons, who were slain between January and May this year.

Ward councillor Roberto Quintas said the significance of Youth Day should not be lost on this occasion.

“In 1976, young people were fighting for freedom, fairness and opportunity, and they are still fighting for this. Gangsterism and drugs have also taken hold of our community, and I think we’ve had enough. My heart and prayers go out to all three families,” he said.

In a written tribute read out to mourners, Mr Brown’s sister Nicole said her brother was a soft person who loved skateboarding and dancing, and was always very giving.

“Anything he did, he always gave of his best, and he always made sure his family was okay. He was dear to his family.”

Mourners learnt that Mr Solomons had dreams of being his own boss one day, and he was viewed as a “hero and protector” of his family.

In a moving address, Shaykh Isgaak Taliep, who recently took up the role as resident imam at the Hout Bay Mosque, said each young person was special in their own way, and was blessed by Allah with their own talents.

“There is a lot of soul searching we need to do as a community. The challenges the youth are facing in Hangberg are the same as they are across the Western Cape. Gangsterism and drugs is a huge, huge problem,” he said.

However, he encouraged the youth to aim for their dreams, and advised that the environment they grew up in should not determine their future.

“You must reach for the stars, and leave the results in the hands of Allah. You need to discover who you are and what your talents are and just go for it.”

He added that Mr Quintas was proving to be a councillor who “walked the walk” and asked the community to support him in his work.

Mireille Wenger, who sits on the Western Cape provincial legislature, said the community needed to focus on the future and the role the youth would play in it.

“There are many issues facing our youth, but we should not only remember them once a year on Youth Day. We need to start imagining a South Africa where youth can make it if they work hard. In South Africa, the youth are our most important resource. Our young people hold the solution.”

Mr Phillips’s cousin, Shana Davids, said the family appreciated the memorial service, as it showed the community refused to forget him.