BY TOBY PORTER
A mum has pleaded for families to communicate with their young sons in the hope of avoiding more tragedy.
Zainab Fofanah’s son Bilal Kargbo was stabbed to death in Blenheim Grove, Peckham, in April, by Parrish Ofoeme, after getting into an argument with him about showing “respect”.
Ofoeme, 23, of Burrage Road, Greenwich initially claimed to have grabbed the knife from Bilal and used it in self-defence.
But he then had to admit he had been carrying it “for his own protection” before the row broke out.
Mrs Fofanah said: “Every knife which is taken from a young boy like this, is a life saved.
“Everyone who goes with one should be put in prison for two years. Then that would stop other people being hurt.
“People are dying just like that, and no one can do anything because they do not want to end up being stabbed themselves.
“Families do not realise the danger they are putting their children through.
“I thank God that the system has found the culprit and punished him.
“But I am not happy about the sentence. He will be free in little more than 10 years. That is nothing compared to the life he took.
“It has damaged our lives so much.
“I collapsed several times after I heard and have had to be treated since then for heart problems.
I have high blood pressure and diabetes. I can’t sleep and I never stop crying. But I have to be careful not to have too much stress because of my heart.
“I came from a poor family and tried so hard, working and paying my taxes. But it did not do Bilal any good.
“I am so grateful my other son did well enough in his education to get a scholarship to Dulwich College. He was sitting A levels at the time and had to do an exam just after Bilal was killed.
“He found he could not write anything in the exam room.
“Families work so hard. Especially black mothers. You have to pay the mortgage and look after them. They work so hard for their children, and sometimes they leave them in the home – and they do all sorts of things behind mum’s backs, which you don’t know about.
“We need the system to change. Parents should pay attention and talk to their children. That is the best way to look after them.
“If you just talk to your sons, they will listen. Be their friend.
“When the first thing happens, have a family gathering and try to sort it out so it does not happen again.”
His mother went to every day of the three-week court hearing. “It was hard to hear what happened,” she said. “The witnesses explained it in detail. There is a mosque there and lots of people going up and down so it was terrible this happened with so many people around, who could not help.
“Bilal was taking a friend to have his phone repaired.
“The culprit was sitting in a vehicle staring at him and when Bilal confronted him, he said he was free to look where he liked.
“Bilal said ‘You are small. Don’t talk to me like that.’
“A bus driver had seen Ofoeme was carrying a knife in his jeans. It was a flick-knife, with a black handle sticking out of the pocket.
“The driver tried to grab him by the wrist. But Ofoeme must have opened the knife and lashed out.
“The bus driver called police and also tried to stop the bleeding from Bilal’s chest.
“Other people tried to help, but by the time the ambulance came, my son was gone.
“I would like to thank all the people who tried to stop it happening and then to help my son as he lay dying – especially the bus driver, a painter, a motor mechanic and a Nigerian nurse in uniform.
“It was not enough for my son, but they tried so hard to stop him dying over so little.”