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'We are overwhelmed by struggle and grief': Family of Croydon stabbing victim Elianne Andam pay tribute at vigil
29 September 2023, 00:19 | Updated: 29 September 2023, 00:32
The family of Elianne Andam have paid tribute to their "beautiful" girl as they said they are "overwhelmed by sorrow and grief".
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Relatives gathered near the bus stop she was stabbed to death at on the way to school as flowers were laid in her memory.
The teenager was cut in the neck after intervening when a fight broke out between her friend and her friend's ex-partner on Wednesday morning.
She was on the way to the independent Old Palace of John Whitgift school and got off to help during the brawl as she was praised for being a "hero".
A church leader read out a statement on behalf of the family, which said: "We as a family are struggling to comprehend this painful tragedy that has happened to our beautiful daughter and beloved sister Elianne. Our hearts are broken.
"And we are overwhelmed by sorrow and grief. Our faith in the Lord is strengthening us.
"We would like to express our gratitude to those who have taken the time to send us thoughtful and compassionate messages and prayers.
"We kindly ask for your consideration to also respect our need for privacy as we attempt to come to grips with our deeply devastating loss.
"Elianne was a beautiful person inside and out who loved Jesus. She was intelligent, thoughtful, kind and had a bright future ahead. It is our request that you keep our cherished daughter Elianne and our family, in your thoughts and prayers."
It emerged on Thursday that Elianne's mother had saved money to send her daughter to the school so she could fulfil her dream of becoming a lawyer.
Witnesses have said her attacker tried to give flowers to his ex-girlfriend on a bus, but they were rejected, and the victim was then stabbed in the neck after she stepped in to protect her friend.
A teenager, 17, has been arrested and is being questioned by police.
On Thursday, LBC was told by a fellow pupil at Old Palace of John Whitgift school how students were told she had died.
Anniyah, who knew Elianne from Year 7, told LBC's Tom Swarbrick: "There was a sort of eerie calm in the morning and then towards halfway through third period we were all called out into assembly, where we were told that in the morning the Whifgift centre incident had been Elianne, and she passed away.
"And our school community is quite a tight one, so it's obviously, it's a feeling you don't forget when everyone, no matter if they knew her or didn't, they all were united by the fact that knife crime is just despicable."
Anniyah said her mother has long been hesitant about her going out in Croydon.
"As a young person, we shouldn't have to be going through this. As a young person, at 15 years old, our biggest worry in our lives should be what our futures are going to be like, if we have homework, if we have any exams to care for," she said.
"We should be thinking about what futures are going to be like, not if we are going to have a future at all."
The attack has renewed focus on the problem of knife crime in London.
Roads minister Richard Holden criticised mayor Sadiq Khan for being tied up on dealing with his Ulez expansion instead of crime.
"I want to see the mayor fully focused on crime and antisocial behaviour, I think there have been some distractions from the mayor over the last few months," he said.
"I think what we should be focusing on is things that really affect people in the city."
Khan said previously: "I am absolutely heartbroken by the death of a 15-year-old girl in Croydon. My thoughts and prayers are with this young girl's family and friends, and the whole community, at this unimaginably awful time."
Dozens of bouquets of flowers were laid at the scene of where Elianne died as more than 20 close family members and friends attended the vigil on Thursday.
A handwritten note from a year 11 pupil left at the scene of where Elianne died read: “May she rest in peace. She will always be remembered."
Bishop Mark Nicholson from Acts Christian Church told crowds at the vigil: "Our hearts are burning. It doesn't matter if you are related or not...
"Another life lost. In our city always, majoring on knife crime.
"I don't have the solution but I can pray to bring solace. Not just one side of the family, both.
"Loads of things are going on in their mind at the moment."