Little Ansia laid to rest at dignified funeral in Orange Farm

FILE IMAGE: Ansia Kheha's aunt, Artilia Vilanculos, accepts a teddy bear while she mourns the loss of her niece. On her left is another family member, Elsa Nhenjani.
FILE IMAGE: Ansia Kheha's aunt, Artilia Vilanculos, accepts a teddy bear while she mourns the loss of her niece. On her left is another family member, Elsa Nhenjani.
Image: Alon Skuy/Sunday Times

The community of Orange Farm came out in large numbers this morning to bid farewell to the innocent three-year-old Ansia Kheha whose lifeless body was found at a dumping site last week.

Little Kheha's body was found last Thursday by a waste picker in an open veld in a sprawling Orange Farm township which is approximately 45 kilometres from Johannesburg. No arrests have been made so far.

She was found stuffed in a plastic bin by a person collecting plastic in a field in Orange Farm. Gauteng Police spokesperson Capt Kay Makhubele said the child had a stab wound to her upper body.

In the wake of Kheha’s killing, the local municipality has embarked on an extensive grass cutting initiative to create safer spaces for children.

This includes the area where Ansia’s body was discovered.Members of the community stood around the coffin with candles lit in an emotional guard of honour during the funeral service as they gave her a dignified final send off.

Her emotional mother Johanna Nyanjani set in the front row and was tightly held by Ansia’s aunt, Arminda Machel. Margaret Arnolds who is a Member of the Mayoral Council (MMC) for community development in the City of Johannesburg delivered a powerful message to the public and congregants on gender based violence.

"We need to deal with this. It is time to act against these brutal killings. Every day we pick up a body, a body here, a body in Cape Town and a body there," she said.

Arnolds said the government was desperate to release criminals from jails because of the Covid-19 crisis which has raised concerns on the sudden rise of crime.

A community member Mapule Lehasa said the widespread killing of women and children around the country has made her feel like she was taking part in a horror movie."I suddenly feel like I'm in a movie waiting for this thing that has entered into individuals, making them kill each other, to come for me," she said.

Lehasa said she was scared of letting her children go to school because they might not return back home." I feel safer in lockdown. I would rather be locked in the house with soldiers patrolling outside than go back to normality."

Family spokesperson Thatohatsi Olifant said the family was grateful to every member of the community who attended the service and ensured that Ansia received a dignified funeral.

"Her mother is still in shock and she is still trying to get into terms with her loss. It has been a very emotional moment," said Olifant.

She said women will now fear going to ask for help from any male because of what men have become" in society.

“Men have become killers and we plead that they talk to each other so that they can go back to being our protectors and keepers," said Olifant.

She suggested that “more talks to the boy child” would help restore peace across communities and families.

“We don’t wish any family to go through what we have been through. But unfortunately the wound will not heal because we keep hearing of more kids and women being killed every day."

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