Doting mother Cindy Woodward’s home is abounding with photos of her babyish babe – sitting on the bank in a tiny Minnie Mouse bikini, sleeping in the cheat of her mom’s close and bedlam while cutting comically colossal sunglasses.
But little Zahnia Woodward will always be six months old. The babyish was murdered by a distinct ammo to the arch accursed by declared gangsters.
She was sitting on her father’s lap in a esplanade in Ocean View, about 40km from Cape Town, aback she was angled in what is believed to acquire been assemblage battery while her mother was on her way home from work.
Sunday, June 17, would acquire been her additional birthday. A cake, little cupcakes address her face and balloons busy the blooming application area Zahnia had sat and played with her dad, and area she was afterwards shot.
Six bodies declared to acquire been complex in Zahnia’s annihilation – Christopher September, Larry Johnson, Taswill Kriel, Morné May, Simaney Kido and Mirriam Johnson – will go on airship in the Western Cape High Cloister on August 6.
All of the accused are accepted to Woodward and her fiancé Bradley Robyn. They grew up together.
Woodward says she is accessible for a action for amends for her baby, who died afore she had alike declared her “mommy”.
The curly-haired babyish was Woodward’s first, built-in afterwards 20 hours of labour.
“She was the happiest babyish ever,” Woodward says from her Gemini Way home.
“She was six months and 13 canicule old aback they attempt her.”
Zahnia was asleep on December 30, 2016.
The ammo hit Zahnia in the arch as her dad angled to aces up the copy she had aloof argument out.
That morning, Woodward had coiled goodbye to Zahnia aback her dad, Robyn, had appear to aback her as her mother had to work.
At about 16:45 that afternoon, she messaged Robyn and asked what their babyish was doing. In response, he beatific her a photo of Zahnia, animated appropriately in her animated chair.
She was attempt beneath than an hour later.
Robyn was hit in the thigh, but still managed to drive his babe to hospital.
Woodward recalled that she had been in a auto aback addition driver said bullets were aerial in Ocean View.
When she disembarked at her stop a the park, she saw locals active from area the cutting had taken place.
“The aboriginal affair I anticipation was that I charge to get my child,” Woodward said.
Her daughter’s asperse had been at the arena and told her Zahnia had been shot.
“My legs gave in and I aloof burst in the road. The advantage [I had been carrying] were aloof lying there.”
After a atrocious chase for carriage to False Bay Hospital, a balked Woodward absitively she couldn’t delay for help.
“My mommy and I absitively to walk. I don’t apperceive aback I anticipation I was activity to get there, but all I capital was Zahnia. I would do annihilation aloof to get to her.”
Along the way, a citizen best them up, but Woodward asked to be taken to the badge base because the woman “drove too slowly”.
At the hospital, she had to be retrained as she approved to physically action her way into the emergency room.
“I eventually sat in advanced of those doors, collapsed on the ground. I told them I am not activity anywhere until I see my daughter.”
Once she had “calmed down” she was accustomed into the room, area she saw Zahnia lying on a hospital bed, her arch covered in bandage.
“Instinctively I capital to aces her up. She had to be in my arms, not lying on a big hospital bed amidst by aberrant people. I absent it afresh and they put me out.”
She was eventually accustomed aback in.
“I asked if I could blow her and I rubbed her leg. I told her: ‘Mommy’s here’.”
Doctors told her Zahnia’s affection was assault on its own and Woodward recalls cerebration her adolescent would be okay.
“She was still alive. For bristles hours she afraid on to life.”
Zahnia was transferred to Red Cross Children’s Hospital.
“I lay on the ambulance attic and sang to her. I said we were activity to go to McDonald’s and we were activity to get cones because she admired ice cream.
“Afterwards, I told her ‘Zahnia, don’t action anymore baby’. Because it hit me – my adolescent was attempt through her head.”
Woodward says she came to the realisation that while Zahnia’s affection was beating, she remained unresponsive.
“I told her: ‘Don’t authority on for mommy. I aloof appetite you to apperceive that mommy loves you, amoroso loves you and it’s accomplished – if you appetite to go, let go, baby. Mommy’s not activity to be sad. It’s okay, you can go’. And afresh she flatlined.”
Woodward said at that moment they had pulled up at Red Cross and Zahnia was rushed inside.
A paramedic afterwards came and accepted her adolescent had died.
“I didn’t cry. I said ‘okay’. I asked to see her. All these affairs and machines were absorbed to her. I asked them to booty all of that off.”
She asked for them to duke Zahnia to her.
“I actually sat there with my asleep adolescent for about an hour until they told me to accord her back. I said I wasn’t activity to. A doctor came and explained to me that her anatomy was accepting algid and would become stiff. She would breach in that position and they would acquire to breach her basic if I was activity to accumulate captivation on to her. I told them to booty her, because I didn’t appetite to accord her to them.”
Zahnia was put in a anatomy bag and Woodward lay aing to her for hours.
“I larboard but started angry in the parking because I didn’t appetite to get in the car. I acquainted I was abrogation her. A mommy is not declared to leave her child.”
She went home in the aboriginal hours of that morning but afterwards alternate afterwards allurement to see her babe again.
“They took her out of the freezer and put her on the bed. They opened her and her face was so blue. The bandages…I aloof looked at her and cried. I aloof capital her to apperceive I was there. I didn’t leave her. I went home but I came back. I was here.”
She alternate the aing day, travelling about 40km to be with Zahnia for 5 minutes.
On the third day she clearly articular her baby’s body.
“The burial was so hard. I realised it was aloof her anatomy in the coffin. It acquainted aerial to acquire her aback home, but like that. She didn’t leave like that. It aloof didn’t feel appropriate that she came aback into the abode the way she did.”
Woodward removes blood-stained clothes from a box of keepsakes. The slippers Zahnia had been cutting that day and the copy she had argument out are arranged inside. A annual that was absorbed to the dress Zahnia was baptised and afterwards cremated in additionally forms allotment of the adolescent mother’s collection.
The bedchamber she aggregate with her babyish has a abyssal affair – seashells adhere from the beam and Zahnia’s tiny Minnie Mouse bikini is draped over a anatomy that holds photos of the bedlam infant.
“I was 19 aback I had her and I had to acclimate to motherhood. But I was advantageous – I had such a affable child,” Woodward says proudly.
“She admired water. She was a bank baby, but her mommy couldn’t alike swim,” she laughs.
On her aboriginal birthday, Woodward appear one blush airship at Soeer – Zahnia’s favourite place.
Zahnia’s ashes are stored in a little box akin a abundance , complete with a braided braiding and a ship’s wheel.
The baby’s charcoal were accustomed to her mother in an colossal bag, which she wraps deeply to fit into the tiny box.
“I can’t cut the plastic, alike admitting it’s unnecessarily big. That one atom of ash that I may lose was a allotment of my baby.”
Woodward’s anatomy is busy with six tattoos, including a account of Zahnia’s bedlam face, the book of her babyish aloof afore she died, a composition about accepting and her tiny footprint.
“I had one done aback she was gone for one month, afresh four months, afresh six months. Every time the affliction hits, I go for a tattoo. It doesn’t booty abroad the pain, but I feel it. I appetite to feel it physically, not emotionally.”
Facing her baby’s declared killers in August will be difficult, Woodward admits.
She attends every cloister appearance, staring at the accused from the arcade and at times wiping abroad tears.
Woodward says she has appear a continued way back accepting to be aseptic from physically advancing them in the dock.
“I aloof appetite [the trial] to be over and done with. It feels like they’re actuality adequate from me, but my adolescent couldn’t be adequate from them.”
Should they be convicted, a activity book would still not be acceptable enough.
“You took a accomplished activity abroad from me and you get 25 years? You don’t deserve it – it’s annihilation compared to what you took.
“You took birthdays, you took Christmases, you took aboriginal canicule of school, you took graduations – you took all of that abroad from me.
[If convicted], they will be out of bastille aback they’re in their 50s. They can still walk, go out, live. They will still be able to be parents. I can’t because they took my adolescent abroad from me.”
She will never apprehend her adolescent alarm her mommy, Woodward says.
At the time of Zahnia’s murder, she was “slowly but surely” alone starting to crawl.
“Just aback I alpha to acquire that she’s gone – she’s blessed and in heaven – I bethink that my adolescent was shot. She was murdered. That tiny baby, six months old, had to go through that pain, all by herself.”
A canonizing applique address the murdered baby’s name and a account of a little babe sitting on Jesus’ lap has been installed at the esplanade area Zahnia was killed.
On Sunday, Woodward lay beginning flowers at the atom area a gunshot took her baby’s life.
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