May 10 2008 at 09:05AM
By Sheree Bega
The family of murdered schoolgirl Emily Williams are emigrating to the UK because they no longer feel safe in South Africa.
This week, Roger Williams, an executive director and chief financial officer of chemical supplier AECI, announced his intention to resign before the end of the year and move abroad with his family as a "direct consequence of the violent death" of their 12-year-old daughter.
On February 12 Emily was struck in the head by a stray bullet when she, her mother Toni and her 10-year-old sister Sophie stumbled upon an armed robbery at a house in Fairland, north of Joburg, where they had arrived to pick up a neighbour's child.
'We can't guarantee our safety out on the street'
Emily, a Grade 7 pupil at Trinity House Preparatory School and a top achiever, was killed in the ensuing shootout between the robbers and a security company's guards.
"It [emigration] is something a lot of people in our situation talk about," Williams told the Saturday Star on Friday.
"We can't guarantee our safety out on the street. We've always had a lot of security but we just don't feel safe anymore.
"Look at the circumstances of Emily's murder. It was 7am and our daughter was going to school [when she was shot].
"Everybody should have the right to go about their business and go to school without worrying that you're going to become a victim of crime," Williams stated.
Emily's death was the last straw for many South Africans, overcome by crime, said Williams, and many of the couple's friends are now emigrating.
"Everybody we know is leaving. It's sad for our country because these are people with valuable skills, who have invested so much in the country. And it's all because of crime."
The family are devastated by Emily's senseless death.
"My wife still cries every day. My daughter is scared and grieving. I'm also grieving in my own way. I don't know if we'll ever get over it or come to terms with it. I don't know if you can."
After their daughter's death, the Williams family created a legacy fund to contribute towards the building of a music, art and drama centre at St Mary's School for Girls, which Emily was going to attend.
Williams and his wife are flying this weekend to Britain, where they will begin to look at properties. "I'm British and so I'm effectively going home. But it doesn't feel like home. I've lived here for 17 years."
AECI said in a statement that it was "saddened that people of his [Williams'] calibre are being lost owing to the national environment of crime that continues to plague this country".
This article was originally published on page 2 of The Star on May 10, 2008