Tamim Ian Habimana
A mother whose 15-year-old son died from a single stab wound on his way home from school has said she will always feel pain but will do “whatever it takes” as she fights to stop further lives being lost.
Hawa Haragakiza, 33, vowed to campaign for change after her eldest child Tamim Ian Habimana was killed in Woolwich, south-east London, in July.
It comes as the number of teen homicides in the capital in 2021 reached 30.
Two boys were stabbed to death within an hour of each other on Thursday, making 2021 the bloodiest year on record for teen homicides in London. The previous record was 29 in 2008.
A 16-year-old boy was fatally wounded at Philpot’s Farm, Yiewsley, west London, and was pronounced dead at 8.25pm.
It followed the stabbing of a 15-year-old boy in Ashburton Park, Croydon, south London, who was pronounced dead at 7.36pm.
Mum fighting for change in son’s memory
Ms Haragakiza said young people are left with nothing to do after school and so wander the streets, where there is generally no police protection.
She told the PA news agency: “There’s a problem with young people because they’ve got so much time on their hands.
“After school they just don’t have anything to do and they just wander the street. And on the street we don’t have police protection.”
She believes young people do not trust adults and have no fear of ending up in prison.
“They’ll go to jail, they’ll have a nice life there, they’ll come out,” Ms Haragakiza said. “How about us? We just lost our kid.
“At the end of the day I was expecting my kid to be a lawyer, I was expecting my son to be a good citizen who I can be proud of. But he’s not here.
Ms Haragakiza is determined to make a change in her son’s memory.
She said: “I don’t think that I’ve got time to just sit down and cry until I’ve seen that I’ve made a change in my son’s name.
“I know who my son was, he was a good boy. The way he looked at me was reassuring me ‘Mum, I will do you proud’.
“I will always have this pain, but the way to cope with it is to do what Tamim would want, which is to make a change. I have to do whatever it takes.”
This includes campaigning for centres for young people to keep them off the street and offer positive activities, as well as pushing for tougher jail terms.
She also wants to see bereaved relatives and ex-offenders visiting schools to teach young people the human cost of knife crime.
“It’s like every single day another kid is dead, and it looks like we have to accept that’s how it is, when we shouldn’t. It is supposed to be a free country but also a safe country,” Ms Haragakiza said.
‘I refuse to accept the loss of young lives is inevitable’
Speaking after the two latest deaths, a Met Police chief said everyone had a role to play in tackling knife crime.
Metropolitan Police Commander Alex Murray said: “My message today, other than speaking to the families and friends of those that London has lost, is to say you cannot carry knives in London.
“This is what happens when knives are carried and we all have a role in relation to tackling knife crime.”
And in a direct message to parents, he said: “If you have concerns, talk to your kids.
“Make sure they’re not carrying knives, make sure they’re not hanging around with kids carrying knives.
“We don’t know who has knives but we can find out and we can stop them hurting someone or being hurt.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was “devastated” by the double tragedy, and that the police are “doing everything possible to bring those responsible to justice”.
He said: “I refuse to accept that the loss of young lives is inevitable and will continue to be relentless in taking the bold action needed to put an end to violence in our city.”
A message from the editor:
Thank you for reading. NationalWorld is a new national news brand, produced by a team of journalists, editors, video producers and designers who live and work across the UK. Find out more about who’s who in the team, and our editorial values. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going. You can also sign up to our email newsletters and get a curated selection of our best reads to your inbox every day.