With these words, Jasmine Lee Pretorius’s grandmother Isabelle du Toit opened proceedings at the funeral service yesterday for the four-year-old allegedly killed by her uncle two weeks ago.
“They were good parents, loving parents and even the great-granny who helped look after her. We all protected her and we loved her. I had four granddaughters, I now only have three,” said Du Toit.
The service began when dozens of bikers arrived at the Pinkster Prostestant Church in Brenthurst, Brakpan, east of Johannesburg. The hearse was a glass-sided trailer, emblazoned with the words “The Last Ride” and towed by a large motorcycle.
The small white casket with golden handles was covered in roses and daisies in every shade of pink. As the casket was carried inside by the pallbearers, the bikers formed a guard of honour from the hearse to the stand inside the church.
WATCH THE VIDEO HERE: Final farewell for little Jasmine
During an extended break between songs, the silence became overwhelming for one mourner, and she began to sing the word “Hallelujah” in a haunting, soft, yet clear, voice which spread throughout the church.
As the volume swelled, Pastor Colin Bam, Pretorius’ grandfather, took the podium. During a prayer, he said that Pretorius, in death, had drawn nations together. Afterwards in a gesture of reconciliation, he added that even though the family had been vilified by the Brakpan community, he had wanted to have the burial in Brakpan because it was where she had lived and died.
“It was very tragic the way she was taken. She was a loving spirit and I can’t imagine what she must have gone through. As a pastor and a leader, I have to forgive. As a biker, I’m still trying.”
He cautioned parents when he said: “No parent wants to bury a child, look after your children.” The 23-year-old suspect appeared in court on Tuesday where he applied for legal aid. He will appear again on Monday.
After the court appearance, Bikers against Child Abuse spokesman Koos van Vuuren said they were opposed to people who hurt children. “Let me say to the rapers out there, we are Brakpan, we are bikers. The Bible says ‘keep a guard in front of your mouth’. ‘We say keep a guard in front of your pants, because that is where the problems are going to start’.”
Pretorius will be cremated today in a private ceremony.