As those of you who have journeyed with Bridges for many years may know, Bridges of Hope built a house for an amazing woman in Philippi who lived across the street from our Bridges headquarters at St Paul’s Church. Agnes was an apartheid freedom fighter, tortured, shot and imprisoned as she worked to bring freedom to her people. When we met her in 2001, she was fostering orphaned and abandoned children—fallout from the brutal AIDS pandemic. In 2003, after our family had moved here, Bridges of Hope CHEs discovered 2 young boys, Odwa and Buntu, caring for their newborn sister, Vuyiseka, while trying to nurse their dying mother back to health. Their mother passed away shortly after we found them, and Agnes took them into her home, which Bridges had built for her and her growing brood.
Odwa and Buntu came to the Orphan Support Group we were running, and Agnes’ 2 grandsons, Melikhaya and Hector also managed to sneak in and attend the support group and camps, even though they were not orphans.
Odwa and Buntu were in the group of 30 original students who came to Bridges Academy when it opened in January 2008. Odwa graduated in 2011 and went off to university. Somewhere along the way, Odwa became involved in dangerous activities that we assume were gang-related. Apparently, a few months ago Odwa decided to turn his life around and leave the gang. Last Sunday night he was shot in the head and killed, probably for this reason. All week many Bridges friends from near and far have been grieving the death of our Odwa. As is the cultural tradition, his family and friends gathered last night (Friday) for prayer and mourning. During that time, gunmen invaded the home that Bridges built and shot 3 (or possibly 4) mourners to death: Melikhaya, Hector’s father, and Agnes’ son, Mxolisi. We assume Buntu and Vuyiseka witnessed these heinous murders, as well as the other family members, and we cannot begin to fathom the depth of their trauma.
This fund will help the Zantsi family with their expenses as they now have memorials for 4 family members to provide for. These latest deaths were the heads of the household and providers, so hopefully we can raise extra funds to help support the family in this difficult transition.