Daughter of stabbed gran calls for calm, unity

Vyleen White's family and African community urge peace

The daughter of a 70-year-old grandmother fatally stabbed outside a Brisbane shopping centre has issued an emotional plea for calm following the shocking attack.

Cindy White joined the Queensland African Communities Council on Thursday, amid rising local tensions after the death of her mother, Vyleen last Saturday.

She said her family had been “torn apart from the heart”, but she didn’t want anger aimed at innocent families.

“Sorry mum, you sort of are in the spotlight now. And, do you know what? If this is for one reason only, it is to pursue peace,” she said.

“People are scared to leave their homes, of all colours … Grandmothers are scared to leave the house.

“I don’t want people to live in fear. But because of the stuff I have had to go through, live today as if it is your loss. Tell people you love them.”

Vyleen White died after being stabbed in the chest during an alleged robbery at Redbank Plains in Ipswich. The incident occurred in front of her six-year-old granddaughter, who rushed to summon help.

Five teenagers – aged 15 and 16 – have been arrested in connection with the incident. A 16-year-old boy has been charged with White’s murder.

vyleen white ipswich

Five teenage boys have been charged in relation to Vyleen White’s allegedly stolen car.

At least some of those accused over the violent incident are of African heritage, which has sparked community tension.

Queensland African Communities Council Beny Bol said members of the broader African community had experienced verbal abuse and attacks on social media.

“‘Go back, you’re the monkeys, you shouldn’t be in this country, pack all of your stuff and go back to your country’ – you can imagine how that’s affecting people everywhere,” he said.

“What you see is people living within the community trying to find who to blame because they’re trying to find some answers.

“The support that’s been pouring out has been overwhelming. A tiny number of people making those comments with very loud voices should not take the attention away from that.”

Cindy White said the families of the arrested teens were “heartbroken”.

“They came [to Australia] because of their children, they wanted a future for their children,” he said.

“They feel judged, misunderstood, people don’t know what they’re going through.

“These are parents and families who want to see everybody happy, living in peace, and children growing up in peace and enjoying life … they feel so disempowered and confused.”

White said there were always going to be “rogue kids”.

“It doesn’t matter what colour, there are always going to be troublemakers somewhere. You don’t judge the whole community by a couple of bad apples,” she said.

Earlier, Queensland Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Chelepy said youth crime was “complex”. But he also expressed his frustration at alleged repeat offenders after it was confirmed the 16-year-old charged with murder was out on bail at the time of the alleged stabbing.

“We get frustrated when we see serious repeat offenders committing more offences … just like the community get frustrated,” he said on Wednesday.

“But like I said, it’s complex. I think we’re doing a good job … we haven’t given up.”

Ryan said no system was perfect.

“Despite everyone’s best efforts … we will always unfortunately have instances where people are impacted by an instance of evil and that devastates us all,” he said.

“There will be times where people look back in hindsight and say, if a different decision was made, there might have been a different outcome.

“But we don’t have the benefit of hindsight.”

He said Queensland had the nation’s strongest youth justice reforms, citing the presumption against bail laws for repeat offenders. But he urged magistrates to use “the tools in their toolbox” and reflect community expectation when dealing with repeat offenders.

“We have seen in recent times court behaviour change,” he said.

“That’s why we’ve got full detention centres, that’s why we’ve got full watch houses because courts are remanding serious recidivists in custody.

“But I encourage those that aren’t to … use the tools in their toolbox, which are strong and measured and reflect the community expectation that the community should be protected from serious recidivists.”

Floral tributes continue to arrive at Redbank Plains shopping centre for White, while almost $24,000 has been raised for her family by a GoFundMe account.

Ryan said the stabbing had destroyed a family and affected not only a community but the whole state.

“I don’t think anyone will ever fully heal, anyone will fully ever get over this act of evil … inflicted on that poor lady and her family,” he said.

-with AAP

Topics: Queensland
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