“You have scored your last goal,” a short but heartfelt letter written by one of murdered 12-year-old Ashwin Jones’s classmates reads. “My tears fall for you. [Your killers] broke our class’ heart.”
Ashwin’s teacher, Cherwin Kleinsmidt, read a number of similar letters during a memorial service held at Tygersig Primary School in Uitsig on Tuesday, less than a week after Ashwin died in a hail of bullets near his home.
Ashwin, described as a joker who loved playing soccer, and two friends had been keeping an eye on worshippers’ cars at a local mosque on Friday night.
His grandmother, Brenda Rudolf who had raised him, said she never allowed Ashwin to loiter outside, but allowed him to go to the mosque as she could see him from her front door.
During the holy month of Ramadaan, the mosque would distribute food and treats to the locals, she explained. Ashwin and his friends had been waiting for something to eat when he was gunned down on Friday night.
‘I cried my heart out’
Rudolf wept inconsolably as his schoolmates sang hymns during a special assembly that was held for him. A candle burned next to a photo of the smiling Grade 5 pupil.
“When I got the news, I cried my heart out, as if he was my own child,” Kleinsmidt said. “He wasn’t a difficult pupil, always showing great respect. He was one of the innocents.”
While the shooting is believed to have been gang-related, Ashwin was not involved in anything untoward, Pastor Adam Alexander told News24.
The 12-year-old was a participant in one of the youth programmes he ran, Alexander said, adding that the boy was raised in a good home.
He dismissed “skinner” that Ashwin was a gun runner, had ties to gangs and was covered in tattoos.
“It’s baseless,” Alexander maintained.
‘Lord, he was my life. He was my heart’
Addressing the pupils on Tuesday, he prayed for peace to return to the gang-ridden community.
“For 12 years, violence has triumphed here. But it’s over. Today, I proclaim that it will come to an end,” he preached.
“These gangsters want fear in our community. But I believe that when we trust and persevere, change will come.
“Ashwin’s life was cut short. Today, the enemy is celebrating. But we as God’s people never lose, because there is life after death.”
Rudolf walked out of the school hall before the service concluded, wailing at the entrance while neighbours held her up.
“Lord, he was my life. He was my heart,” she cried.
“I just want to hold him one more time. Only once. I loved him. It’s too much.”
Rudolf’s son and the Ashwin’s biological mother went to identify his body on Tuesday afternoon.
Police are investigating a case of murder. No arrests have been made yet
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