Sabina Nessa vigil: Heartbroken sister speaks out as hundreds of Londoners gather

·4 min read
Sabina Nessa vigil: Heartbroken sister speaks out as hundreds of Londoners gather

Hundreds of people gathered at a candlelit vigil for murdered Sabina Nessa on Friday.

The special ceremony to remember the primary school teacher was held in Pegler Square, in Kidbrooke, London from 7pm.

She was killed on a five-minute walk from her home to The Vault pub but she wasn’t able to meet her friend.

People who could not attend were encouraged to hold a candle at their doorstep at the same time.

Ms Nessa’s sister thanked people for their support in attending the event where a photograph of the much-loved primary school teacher was displayed on a wooden easel decorated with fairy lights.

Speaking through her tears, Jebina Yasmin Islam said: “We have lost an amazing, caring, beautiful sister who left this world far too early. She didn’t reach her 29th birthday next month.

People attend a vigil in memory of Sabina Nessa and in solidarity against violence against women at Pegler Square in Kidbrooke, south London (PA)
People attend a vigil in memory of Sabina Nessa and in solidarity against violence against women at Pegler Square in Kidbrooke, south London (PA)

“Sabina loved her family. We have lost a sister, my parents have lost their daughter and my girls have lost such a brilliant, loving and caring auntie who dearly loved them.

“Words cannot describe how we are feeling. It feels like we are stuck in a bad dream and can’t get out of it.

“Our world is shattered. We have simply lost the words. No family should go through what we are going through.”

The Duchess of Cambridge shared a special message in the wake of Ms Nessa’s murder, telling how she is “saddened by the loss of another innocent young woman on our streets.”

Hundreds of well wishers turned out to pay their respects at the emotional event (PA)
Hundreds of well wishers turned out to pay their respects at the emotional event (PA)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official Twitter account shared a photo of a candle lit outside No 10 Downing Street with the caption “tonight we remember Sabina Nessa.”

Police estimate that more than 500 people packed into a small square in south-east London for the vigil where tears were shed in her memory.

Speeches were given beside a large photograph of the 28-year-old smiling proudly in her graduation gown, as her family sat nearby and wept while watching the proceedings as darkness fell.

Prayers were said and a minute’s silence held.

Greenwich Council deputy leader Denise Scott-McDonald told those who may be feeling worried, scared or angry, “you are not alone” following the “terrible crime.”

She continued: “If you demand change, you are not alone.

“What happened to Sabina is a tragic reminder that tackling violence against all women needs to be put at the very, very top of everyone’s agenda.

“Our number one priority should be making sure our society is a safe and equal place for everyone.

Ms Nessa’s body was found near the OneSpace community centre at Kidbrooke Park Road in Greenwich on Saturday (PA)
Ms Nessa’s body was found near the OneSpace community centre at Kidbrooke Park Road in Greenwich on Saturday (PA)

“Violence against women and girls can only end if we confront those perpetrating the violence.”

Ms Scott-McDonald later referred to Ms Nessa as “the latest in a painful long list of women attacked on our streets” and called on the community to confront sexism, misogyny, abuse and violence against women.

Detectives have issued a plea for help to identify a man captured on CCTV on the night Ms Nessa was attacked and have warned the public not to approach him.

Ahead of the vigil, mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “The vigil for Sabina Nessa tonight is an important and emotional moment for the whole community to come together and remember Sabina’s life, and to stand in solidarity with her family and loved ones during this time of unimaginable grief.

“Sabina’s family, friends and colleagues have shared powerful tributes to her life. It’s clear that she was a bright, kind and caring young woman, who had a powerful impact on those around her.

“What happened to Sabina is every parent’s nightmare and every woman’s worst fear. Her death is a tragedy and I stand with the community in Kidbrooke and Londoners across our city, united in grief and united in our determination that justice is done.”

Those who could not attend the vigil were asked to light a candle at their doorsteps (PA)
Those who could not attend the vigil were asked to light a candle at their doorsteps (PA)

Lisa Williams, the head of Rushey Green Primary School where Ms Nessa taught, said her colleagues and pupils are “taking our time to reflect and process the devastating news” of her death.

Mrs Williams said: “We have shared the details about the vigil with our school community and some people may be attending on a personal level to privately pay their respects.

“As a school we are taking our time to reflect and process the devastating news we received this week, and will be commemorating Sabina in our own way.”

Campaigners have called for the community to unite and end violence against women (PA)
Campaigners have called for the community to unite and end violence against women (PA)

Dozens more bouquets have been left at the park where the body of teacher was found on Saturday. Tributes have been pouring in for Ms Nessa both online and handwritten notes left where her body was found.

Among the sea of comments, one handwritten note read: “Miss you so much. RIP my beautiful friend.”

Another note said: “She just wanted to meet her friend. She was minutes from her home. She didn’t deserve this.”

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