Nothing and no one can be taken for granted. Ever.
This is triptych of 3 posts dedicated to Three souls who passed out of this earthly plain in one week at new moon in mid March 2016 in order of their passing. Franziska Blochlinger, Anton Van der Merwe and Enoch.
It startled us in the middle of the night. There was a crash right next to me, which woke me up. A picture fell off the wall for no reason. It was unsettling.
That was the beginning of the strange turn of events. It could be put down to an astrological phenomenon, a change of seasons or a crack in the universal energy force- creating a kind of gateway for souls to pass through, an easy passageway just before the equinox and a crack for the light to shine in. Who knows what it was, but there was powerful dark moon, which passed over us a touch closer to the earth than usual and eclipsed the sun. It feels like a lot has changed since then as the earth races towards the Easter full moon and the hope of resurrection. They say the darkest hour comes before the dawn.
The morning after the glass shattered, I stood on a shard of glass in the kitchen. It is still in my foot to remind me. That morning I read in the newspaper that a young girl called Franziska Blochlinger, who attended the school my children went to, had been murdered while running in the forest not far from her mother and sister. This being the same forest I regularly walk in with my dog, with my children – a familiar place. This girl Franziska was someone I had seen around for years growing up, not knowing her really, but a familiar face- now taken from life so close to her mother and in her prime. Nipped in the bud by a shockingly violent act, which tore a hole in the wholeness of existence. It felt like a hole where dark figures could creep in and steal ones children from right under our noses. What’s more we found out a few days later, the horror, she was gang raped while her mother searched for her.
A week has passed. There are wreathes of flowers on the fence at the forest where it happened. There was a vigil the evening after the news broke and 3000 people walked the same path in tribute to her, carrying flowers, while her family bled tears of heart breaking pain. Her father bore a heavy wooden cross to plant in the place where she died. I felt the loss as if I had known her. There are reminders where ever I go. There are wilting wreathes of flowers in the garden at Kalkbay park where a tree has been planted for her. Sad, drooping wreathes of white Lilys on the beach at Dalebrook, where she loved to go.
Every mother with children her age held Franziska’s family in their heart and felt their pain. As a mother I held her mother in painfully my heart. When I woke in the morning I imagined what it must feel like for her waking up to another day of her daughters absence – the changed reality they were facing since that Monday afternoon in the forest.
So many tears have been wept for them and for the sense of safety that this act has stolen from us all. They who did this, stole more than her precious life. They also stole our freedom to let our teenage daughters run or play or go anywhere alone. They stole the freedom for any girls or women to explore, or stretch their wings a little- to be alone and to breathe in nature. We wept for all of our beautiful daughters in their innocent budding youth, and for the deep loss we all feel in our hearts in empathy with the family. In the days that followed, families hugged each other tighter. Parents clung to their children. Husbands comforted their wives. Holding onto their existence and the sense of safety, which has been threatened, impacting on our freedom, our peace of mind.
In the foyer of the school, an 8-year-old stared at Franziska’s portrait, which stood on a shrine with candles and flowers. “I think it’s a wake up call”. She told me. “What kind of a wake up call? “ I asked her. “It’s a wake up call to be more careful about what we do.” She said.
Franziska’s death has signified a transformation into a new awareness. We have been made more aware of how precious life is and how easily it can be taken away. How transient we are. The horror of the circumstances of her death have brought fear to the community, but the loss has brought love and a shared reality which brought people closer. There was something about the elements involved in the incident that created some kind of massive shift that brought people together in a spiritual way. It could be said that Franziska’s passing was not for nothing, it could almost be likened to the image a sacrificial lamb (a lamb in the snow and a naked baby in my dream -on the night of the shattered glass). She died and it brought an awakening. I am still trying to understand what the light was shone upon. Many things will come to light.
Cosmos is a kind African gentleman with a heart of gold. He is the wise gate-keeper/ head of security at Constantia Waldorf school, which Franziska and my children attended. I asked him what he thought about the incident and he sighed and said sadly. “These days, there are crocodiles everywhere.” It was very insightful, the way he said it. We are moving into a new time, and we need to be aware that anywhere we go, there is a chance of crocodiles. crocodiles are scaly predators, a danger people have faced since time began. We used to only find them down by the river in the jungle, but now days, they are everywhere and take many forms. (Cosmos also pointed out that the Justice system allows criminals to get out on bail and that these people could not have been normal, they must have been on drugs.) A further sign of the times, as we spiral into a predicted state of anarchy, we pull our children closer.
It has brought an awareness of the worlds that we rub against. The gangster worlds, the drug “Tik” and the psychopathic behaviour it causes. In the nearby Cape flats, families deal with the loss of their children to these on a regular basis. It is not less painful to them. It is just not given as much press because it happens more regularly there and the voiceless live in poverty. Yet a boundary has been crossed. We cannot accept having our daughter gang raped and murdered right next to us as we take a walk in the forest. We cannot accept a society where that is possible. This incident has created an outcry which seems to have been heard and felt more deeply than usual. We are not prepared to accept this kind of behaviour in our society. We draw the line. The four young suspects stood trial on Friday. Bail has not been granted at this stage. Women protested outside the court all day. The courtroom was packed to capacity. Putting them in jail will keep them out of the forest, but it will not bring back the beautiful Franziska. We need to get to the root of the problem. What causes this unacceptable behaviour in the first place?
It has brought awareness of many things, as Franziska’s death was not the only one that week, another young girl, Sinoxolo Mafevuka, whose body was found dumped in a public toilet in the township. Much debate was struck up in the press and social media about why her murder was given less attention than Franziska’s.
Here again Franziska’s passing shone a light of awareness on what was being done to solve the crime and to create safety for the people of that community. It has brought a broader community together standing up against crime in all areas and especially violence against women and children. Groups united speaking up for both victim’s the “white girl” and the “black girl” and all the other recent rape and murder victims. Franziska Blochlinger and Sinoxolo Mafevuka are now equal, both angels. Angels are in the next realm, and the creed and the colour and the name don’t matter, they are there.
We grieve for those who are left behind with the loss.
The school community sang this song for Franziska.
In the morning of my life I shall look to the sunrise,
At a moment in my life when the world is new,
And the blessing I shall ask is that God will grant me,
To be brave and strong and true
And to fill the world with love my whole life through.
And she did and still does.