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Monthly Archives: September 2013

Justice prevails…and yet

imageThis is the ninth part of the impact statement that my mother wrote. This part was not read out in court, but was written afterwards about the experience.

Justice Prevails, and yet …..

We are so grateful to the police and to the prosecuting authorities for their excellent work in arresting the criminals, assembling the evidence and (ultimately) bringing the case to trial. After nearly 4 years 2 of the 4 attackers were sentenced to life imprisonment for rape as well as being charged for kidnap, robbery, illegal possession of a firearm, etc.

The Judge described the circumstances of the case as horrific and callous. She said that rape was a worst nightmare for women.

It was such a relief that this saga was over, that the criminals were punished for their crime, and yet…. there were no winners in this. Our children have lost something innocent and precious, their lives had been irrevocably impacted and changed, and we as parents, although willingly doing so, have paid a very high price in supporting them in their recovery.

Even the criminals ultimately gained nothing except for a very long prison sentence that would result in them only being eligible for parole as very old men.

There were no winners here.

The next post is, ‘Courageous Cayly’

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The Trial

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This is the eight part of the impact statement. Obviously my mom did not read this out in court as it is about the court case, but wrote this afterwards.

The Trial

The length of time that it took for this matter to come to trial was incredibly stressful. The date changes and delays were disruptive and emotionally unsettling. We were initially told that the high court trial would start about six months after the hijack, which never happened. Several other dates were mentioned, but none of them ever materialised. We were told that the 31 October 2011 was D-Date and psychologically we prepared ourselves for this date and cleared our diaries for a two-week period. Again, when it didn’t get underway, we felt disheartened and despairing of this trauma ever coming to an end.

The trial finally started in Nov 2012, a full year later, and nearly 3 years after the hijack occurred. However, when the defendants saw that the evidence was becoming very damning, they “fired” their Legal Aid advocate and asked for the case to be adjourned whilst they sought their own legal representation, quite likely just a stalling tactic. The case resumed again in June 2013, and was again adjourned for two weeks whilst the defendants finalised their legal representation and called for their own witnesses.

The trial was characterised by lies, deceit, fabrications and every attempt to derail the legal process. We, who lived with the harsh reality and consequences of the hijack, found it extremely hard to retain our composure during this barrage of outright lies and falsehoods. It is just as well that breathing and swallowing are involuntary reflexes as we at times virtually stopped doing those. It was horrible, horrible, horrible.

The next post is, ‘Justice Prevails, and yet …..’

Cayly’s Health Takes A Tumble

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This is the seventh part of the impact statement that my mom read in court.

Cayly’s Health Takes a Tumble

Cayly’s health has been adversely impacted:

• She had been free of asthma for many years but it re-occurred after the attack and she still requires asthma medication
• She takes medication to aid her in sleeping at night and is on an antidepressant.
• Cayly still tires easily especially when in a large group of people or with strangers as she constantly does safety scans.
• We all have had extensive therapy – we had for a year and Cayly had extensive on-going therapy for three and a half years.

She was unable to continue her fulltime performing arts studies as she wasn’t physically and emotionally up to it. She changed to part-time studies which mean that she has taken longer to complete her studies. She did her final Trinity Licentiate practical exam on the 3 June of this year, the very same day that the trial resumed. It wasn’t easy for her doing a performance based exam on the same day in a building a stones throw away from the High Court where court proceedings were underway.

Although she resumed her part-time student job she later resigned as she was struggling with feelings of safety. This had a direct impact on her finances and her sense of independence.

The next post is, ‘The Trial’

Post Traumatic Stress

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This is sixth part of the impact statement that my mom read in court.

Post Traumatic Stress

We as parents were on constant high alert for the first year as we had to provide comfort at times of :

• Nightmares
• Sleepless nights
• Flashbacks
• Triggers e.g. revving engine, erratic driving, group of men approaching, someone approaching her unexpectedly from the back, feeling unsafe seated in a car, guns, full moon, Friday nights, when she isn’t considered or feels scared.

This was exhausting, as one initially never knew when any of the above was going to happen. Because the youngsters spent a lot of time together and initially mostly at our home we found ourselves dealing with two people in crisis simultaneously. I committed to walking closely alongside both Cayly and her boyfriend (now ex) during the first 2 years of their recovery. This had a huge impact on us financially as I sacrificed earnings during this time. We had to downscale drastically and lost much in the process. We made the decision that we could not put a price tag on our daughter’s recovery. I sacrificed much of my time and sleep whilst being a companion to a daughter in distress. On many a night we drank copious cups of tea when sleep eluded her in the early hours.

The next post is, ‘Cayly’s Health Takes a Tumble’
I had also written a post about Post Traumatic Stress a year ago, https://caylysdandeliondays.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/trigger-un-happy/

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HIV/AIDS

 

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This is the fifth part of the statement that my mom read in court.

HIV/AIDS

To eliminate the risk of contracting HIV, Cayly had to be given a course of Antiretroviral medication. She experienced no side effects during the first two weeks of taking the medication but during the next two weeks was confined to bed as she experienced constant nausea and vomiting and became weak and ill and anaemic. We were so concerned that being ill would negate the effect of the antiretrovirals.

She was given various dates over the course of the next year on which she had to be tested for HIV. Having the blood tests done and awaiting the results was so incredibly stressful. We felt anxious and fearful each time we awaited the HIV test results. When the negative results came back after the first 30 day test we wept and wept with relief. We went through the same high emotions each time the doctor gave us feedback. The final all-clear was received over a year later. We wept and celebrated all at the same time.

We also had to face concerns of pregnancy and were most relieved that she wasn’t.

The next post is, ‘Post Traumatic Stress’

The Reactions

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This is the fourth part of the impact statement that my mom read in court.

The Reactions

We took the view right from the word go that our focus was going to be on helping Cayly (and her ex-boyfriend) to recover. We had happened had happened and there was nothing we could do to undo or change what had happened. The one we could do and had full control over was to help them recover, and this was our singular focus going forward.

Unfortunately, not everyone else felt the same way and many people reacted in ways that, although understandable, were not helpful in any way in the healing process. There were some who wanted revenge, to the extent that they were even willing to pay money for the criminals to be hunted down and killed. Others, from their anger, demanded justice, checking up on the police’s activities to make sure that they were doing their job properly. Of these, some were even angry with us for being so “soft” on the criminals, as if being angry would somehow have improved the situation. Perhaps if it was their own daughter that had been involved their attentions might have been somewhere other than on justice or revenge. We certainly had to contend with a lot of heated expression, often delivered in colourful language.

Socially, people either avoided the topic altogether or dealt with the awkwardness by making small talk or displaying false gaiety. Others said inappropriate and sometimes (naively so) things that were quite hurtful. Many took the opportunity to regale us with other people’s horror stories, as if now was the appropriate time to share these. The truth was we had our own real live horror story which was quite enough to handle without being burdened by more stories.

This was a very scary and lonely time for all of us, most especially Cayly, and the few who came and just sat with us, drank tea and the one or two friends who just lay on the bed with Cayly in silence, brought much comfort.

There were those who brought flowers, gifts, food and kept us in their prayers. To all of these we are very grateful for their love and support.

The next post is, Hiv/Aids

Returning To The Crime Scene

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This is the third part of the impact statement that my mom read in court.

Returning to the Crime Scene

We slept fitfully for the few hours before reporting to Humewood Police station at 9 a.m. Their statements were taken and not fully comprehending what was required of us next, we all returned to the scene of the previous nights attack to identify the crime scene. The first stop was at a scenic patch, relatively close to the Noordhoek Ski Club where they had picnicked. We discovered their picnic blanket and some food items still left behind from when the hijackers ordered them to empty the boot of the car before ordering them to get into the boot. The Police took photographs. We then left the picnic spot and turned right back onto Marine Drive and drove along a very bumpy dirt road to the isolated spot where the hijackers took our daughter and her boyfriend.

We walked alongside them as they confirmed where they had been taken and where the car had been parked the previous evening. We then walked up a small dune and half buried in the sand we found our daughter’s ring, one of her little size 3 socks and some other personal items that had been in her handbag. We were standing at the place where she had endured the horrors of the previous evening. This was excruciatingly difficult for Cayly and us.

Whilst there, some fisherman approached us to ask whether the handbag they had found lying in the bush belonged to our daughter. It was hers. The boyfriends hoodie top was also found, flung on top of a tall bush.

All of these were stark reminders of the horrendous events that had transpired only hours earlier, and from which there was now no denial.

The next post is, ‘The Reactions’.