'My world has shattered': Sabina Nessa's sister breaks down as hundreds gather at vigil

24 September 2021, 20:10 | Updated: 25 September 2021, 13:16

By Daisy Stephens

The sister of Sabina Nessa said her world is "shattered" as she led a vigil in Pegler Square to remember the 28-year-old teacher.

Speaking to crowds near where Ms Nessa was killed, her sister Jebina Yasmin Islam broke down as she said her world was "shattered" and she felt like she was "stuck in a bad dream".

"I just want to say thank you to everyone who came today to show support for my sister," said Ms Islam.

"We have lost an amazing, caring, beautiful sister, who left this world far too early."

She added: "Sabina loved her family.

"Words cannot describe how we are feeling, this feels like we are stuck in a bad dream and can't get out of it - our world is shattered, we are simply lost for words.

"No family should go through what we are going through."

Hundreds of people have gathered to pay their respects to Sabina Nessa
Hundreds of people have gathered to pay their respects to Sabina Nessa. Picture: Alamy Live News
Sabina's sister broke down as she spoke to crowds at the vigil in Pegler Square
Sabina's sister broke down as she spoke to crowds at the vigil in Pegler Square. Picture: Alamy Live News

Ms Nessa's uncle, Shahin Miah, said the family has "no language to speak in these difficult times".

"Those of you who are here today are sympathetic to our grief over this brutal murder, on behalf of the family of Sabina Nessa, I would like to express my deep gratitude to all those who have spoken out against it," said Mr Miah in a statement read out at a rally at the East London Mosque.

He said the family was "devastated and distraught", saying: "We have no language to speak in these difficult times. There is no place for suffering like this."

He thanked those speaking out against violence against women, saying: "We are grateful to all who have been hurt, protested, sympathised with, and expressed concern for the safety of women throughout the UK... Any adversity teaches us to be united, gives us the strength to fight against injustice."

He added: "Sabina is our grief today, Sabina is our courage today."

Hundreds have gathered at Pegler Square in Kidbrooke
Hundreds have gathered at Pegler Square in Kidbrooke. Picture: Alamy Live News
The murder of Ms Nessa has sparked new discussion about male violence against women
The murder of Ms Nessa has sparked new discussion about male violence against women. Picture: Alamy Live News

Among those to speak at the vigil was Detective Chief Inspector Trevor Lawry, who said his "thoughts" were with Ms Nessa's friends and family as well as the community of Kidbrooke, all of whom had to "come to terms" with the teacher's death.

"Not only do we stand with you tonight - we do this going forward," he said.

"Please help us catch the person responsible for this shocking incident."

He urged mourners to work with the police and "please do not forget Sabina. Say her name and remember her".

Eltham MP Clive Efford also spoke, directly addressing Ms Nessa's family by telling them: "With everything that you are going through, these people are here for you."

He told the crowd that the police "officers here are also parents and they are just as determined to see justice to Sabina's family as anyone else, I have witnessed that this week."

Detective Chief Inspector Trevor Lawry urged mourners to "say her name"
Detective Chief Inspector Trevor Lawry urged mourners to "say her name". Picture: Alamy Live News
Those attending the vigil lit candles as the evening went on.
Those attending the vigil lit candles as the evening went on. Picture: Alamy

The candlelit vigil, organised by Reclaim These Streets, took place in Peglar Square near where Ms Nessa was killed.

Police estimated that more than 500 people packed into the small square in south east London.

Speeches were given alongside a giant photograph of the 28-year-old smiling proudly in her graduation gown.

Prayers were said and a minute's silence was held, with flowers, candles and cards left by both adult and children.

Other vigils are taking place up and down the UK, including Brighton, Oxford, Cardiff and Bristol.

Read more: 'My beautiful sister. My inspiration' Sabina’s devastated sister pays tribute

Downing Street spoke out in support of the vigil, tweeting a photo of a candle on the doorstep of No10 and saying: "Tonight we remember Sabina Nessa."

The Duchess of Cambridge also tweeted, saying: "I am saddened by the loss of another innocent young woman on our streets.

"My thoughts are with Sabina’s family and friends, and all those who have been affected by this tragic event."

The body of the 28-year-old schoolteacher was found in Cator Park on Saturday evening.

Police believe she was walking through the park to meet a friend in a pub on Friday evening, but she never arrived.

Two arrests have been made in recent days, but both men were released pending further investigation.

Detectives are still trying to trace a third man captured on CCTV near where Ms Nessa was killed.

Read more: Detectives hunting killer of Sabina Nessa release new CCTV video of man they want to trace

Ms Nessa's story is reigniting debate about the safety of women and girls on the streets.

Mr Miah said his niece's death had "once again brought to the fore the question of women's safety on the streets".

"We don't want what happened to Sabina to happen to anyone else," he said, and called the "insecurity" of women "deeply worrying".

He added: "We don't want any other mother's chest to be empty or filled with deep sorrow, or to see the tears in the eyes of any father."

People left signs calling for the violence to end.
People left signs calling for the violence to end. Picture: Alamy

Mr Efford also highlighted the wider societal issue of violence against women, telling those gathered that they will need to go back into their communities to make a difference in the way that women are treated, and the levels of respect given to everyone.

To applause he said: "If we want to make change here, and I am talking to the blokes, those sexist jokes that trip off the tongue at the coffee machine - that is where it starts.

"That is the small steps that create the environment where people feel they can become violent and aggressive towards women and girls."

"If we are going to bring about change, we have to live that change and be that change as a business, a community, a police force, a council. It comes right from the top and goes all the way down."