Family seek answers to child’s death

Emma Morris would have been five years old and her family said they chose to remember her like this - smiling and happy.

A grieving Joe Slovo father says the police investigation into his four-year-old daughter’s death on Freedom Day has dragged on for too long.

On Saturday April 27, four-year-old Emmarentia “Emma” Morris was on her way to a food stall with friends when she was hit by a bakkie hauling a trailer.

An initial report in Tabletalk, quoting community leaders and residents – had incorrectly identified Emma as a boy (“Boy,4, dies in hit-and-run,” Tabletalk, May 1). The police had not released the child’s name at the time.

But in an interview with Tabletalk on Saturday, Andrew Morris said it had been his daughter, Emma who had died.

“Emma was playing with three other friends right in front of the house. A little later, they had gone down the road, not far, to buy amanqina (chicken feet) because one of them had a R2 to buy some.

“I wasn’t there, but after many talks with people that were at the scene (it is my understanding that) a car came speeding and knocked my little girl. The driver got out of the car and pulled her from underneath the car,” he said.

While Mr Morris was recounting the day’s events, his wife, Stephanie Morris, was visibly upset and started pacing in and out of the room.

Mr Morris said witnesses had told him that the driver had pulled Emma out from under the car then announced he would report himself to the police.

“As he pulled off, the wheel of the trailer also ran over her. He showed so much disregard for her life. But, to this day, we are sitting here and no justice has been dished out,” Mr Morris said.

The investigating officer, Warrant Officer Henry Beaming, said police were investigating a culpable homicide and had leads on a suspect’s whereabouts.

“The suspect is currently on the run. We found out he was staying in Langa at the time of the accident, but efforts to find him failed because we learned that he had packed all his belongings and fled with his wife. Right now, I’m communicating with Home Affairs to help track him using the name I have.

“If he were to cross the border, we have Interpol that can help us in the manhunt, but we have information that he is hiding out in Khayelitsha,” said Warrant Officer Beaming.

He added that he was still waiting for the results of an autopsy to confirm Emma’s exact cause of death.

But Mr Morris said not enough was being done, and his family was suffering knowing that the man accused of being responsible for Emma’s death was still at large, despite police knowing his name and his possible whereabouts.

Throwing his hands in the air, he asked how long the family would have to wait for justice.

“Emma’s brother and sister miss her so much, and you can see what it’s doing to my wife and myself. I can hardly eat because my health is deteriorating as a result of stress and constant overthinking. We miss our baby,” he said.

Mr Morris added that Emma had, in a way, been a protector among her friends. He said that he had once seen her walking a friend of hers home and acting like a grown up.

“That was the type of person she was. I wouldn’t be surprised if that day she was trying to protect her friends and she was the one that was knocked over,” he said.

The family said they thought about Emma every day and wanted to keep her memory alive so that she was not just another slain child on South African roads.