When Cindy Woodward married Bradley Robyn, their wedding was more than just a celebration of their love – it was a bittersweet ceremony in memory of their murdered daughter who they had once thought would be part of their big day.
“But Zahnia was there – not her body, but her spirit. She is always with us,” the new Mrs Robyn said.
The couple were married on Friday in a beachfront ceremony at Soetwater Resort in Kommetjie, water baby Zahnia’s favourite spot.
“I have so many photos and happy memories that we made right there. It just felt right that this would be where we would celebrate this big step. She was part of that moment and that makes me happy
The infant was only 6 months old when she was caught in gang crossfire and shot in the head while sitting on Bradley’s lap outside their home in Ocean View.
Christopher September and Larry Johnson were sentenced to life in jail after being convicted of her murder in November.
They were also found guilty of several charges of attempted murder. These convictions related to people who scattered as the fatal shots were fired from a white VW Golf near a park on December 30, 2016.
The pair was also convicted of the illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition, and Johnson’s mother Miriam was found guilty of trying to conceal the car used in the shooting.
The tiny Zahnia on Friday smiled from the numerous framed photos at the couple’s intimate reception, held in a marquee at the resort.
A candle bearing the faces of her parents and their newborn baby also featured a laughing Zahnia, superimposed in what resembled a family portrait.
“This day was in so many ways about her. I asked the pastor to pray for her before proceedings started – not to bring sadness, but to include her in the happiness I felt. It felt right to do that, to acknowledge my child who for reasons beyond her control could not be there,” Cindy explained.
‘Pink was her favourite colour – she would have approved’
“Even our colour scheme honoured her – pink was her favourite colour. I think she would have approved.”
Raised in a single parent home, Cindy’s mother Jennifer walked her down the aisle. She held on to her daughter’s left arm, which is decorated with a tattoo of her grandchild’s face.
“My mommy was always going to be the one at my side on my wedding day. It’s where she was when we went through the murder trial and where she’s always been when I needed her. She was there, every step of the way.”
Her maid of honour was Nabila Williams, a woman she met after Zahnia’s murder who Cindy now calls her best friend. Williams had reached out to the grieving mother to offer support and had assisted in collecting signatures for a petition calling for the murder accused to not be released ahead of their trial.
Cindy’s bouquet and all the flowers from the festivities were later that day laid at Zahnia’s memorial site – the pavement outside Bradley’s mother home where a single bullet ended her young life.
Cindy became a mom for the second time seven weeks ago, when she gave birth to baby Zahndre.
“I was hoping for a little girl, but God knew why he gave me a boy. In my heart, I will always have my princess.
“Zahnia had my personality. But Zahndre is just like his dad – so grumpy!” she said, laughing.
Her two babies were polar opposites, she believed. While she has numerous videos and memories of Zahnia laughing and smililng, Zahndre is much more sullen.
“But he is still his mommy’s boy,” the proud mom said.
The manner in which her daughter died has made her paranoid and overprotective, she admitted.
“I don’t easily allow him outside. I don’t even go to the clinic here [in Ocean View]; I rather travel to Fish Hoek where it’s safer.”
Little Zahndre will know all about his big sister because her parents will always make her part of every milestone they celebrate, Cindy insisted.
Their new home is decorated with photos of Zahnia. Even the banner they made when her murderers applied for bail is hung in the couple’s bedroom.
“I will never forget her, not at all. I don’t want to. Even though we had another baby, she will always be my first. I won’t move on and not think of her. I don’t think I will ever heal. I lost a part of me, of us.”
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