9 killed in 9 days

Eastridge residents gather to march against gang violence on Sunday April 8. Due to a lack of police presence, they were unable to proceed.

Nine men have been shot dead in Mitchell’s Plain in just little more than a week – four of whom were killed at the weekend.

Three of the four who died this weekend were mowed down in an alleged gang revenge attack in Agapanthus Street, in Lentegeur, on Sunday April 8.

The spate of fatal shootings the past week started with a shooting at Kay’s Roadhouse, off Spine Road, on Saturday March 31 when a 31-year-old man was shot, the killing of a 27-year-old man in Daphne Street in Eastridge on Wednesday April 4, the killing of a 38-year-old man in Lantana Street, Lentegeur, on the same day, another killing of a 36-year-old man in Magaliesberg Street, Tafelsig on Friday April 6, followed by the murder of a 23-year-old in Lentegeur, on Saturday April 7, three more killings in Lentegeur on Sunday April 8 and another in Tafelberg Street, Tafelsig, in which a 33-year-old man out on parole was killed.

The Plainsman was told these murders were all gang-related.

With the most recent shootings at the weekend, Lentegeur police found the 23-year-old shot dead on the corner of Bignonia and Arcia streets at about 11am on Saturday April 7.

He was shot in the forehead and the police are investigating a case of murder.

Another man, 46, was found with gunshot wounds to the stomach, arm and chest in Camellia Street, in Lentegeur on Sunday April 8 at 7.30pm. Constable Shaun Abrahams, Lentegeur police station spokesman, said a case of attempted murder was being investigated.

Two hours later the police were called out to a shooting in Agapanthus Street, in Lentegeur, where they found the bodies of three men, aged between 19 and 21.

“A murder docket has been opened,” said Constable Abrahams.

He confirmed that all of these shootings were gang related.

Rafique Foflonker, spokesman for the Mitchell’s Plain cluster community police board, told the Plainsman the girlfriend of an alleged gang member was robbed and her boyfriend had avenged the attack on Sunday April 8 in Agapanthus Street, in Lentegeur.

The board is an umbrella body, consisting of community police forum (CPF) chairpersons from eight police stations, including Mitchell’s Plain, Lentegeur, Strandfontein, Grassy Park, Steenberg, Philippi, Lansdowne and Athlone police stations.

Mr Foflonker said it was difficult to divulge any further details because Lentegeur police station did not have a community police forum (CPF).

Elections for a CPF executive committee is due to be held at the police station boardroom on Thursday April 26, at 7.30pm.

Constable Abrahams said the station could confirm the four Lentegeur murders and that a case of attempted murder was being investigated. He said all of the incidents were gang-related but could not confirm the robbery of the girlfriend.

Mr Foflonker said the escalation of (gang) murders in Mitchell’s Plain was of concern as innocent people got killed by stray bullets. Underscoring his point is the incident in which two teenage girls were caught in crossfire in Ruwenzori Street Tafelsig on Sunday April 1 at 4.40pm

The 16-year-old was shot in her left foot and arm and the other, 14, was shot in her right thigh.

“It is definitely cause for concern. We don’t have a plan of action as yet, because we need to sit down with the station commander and the CPF, to establish motives for these murders reported in Mitchell’s Plain,” he said.

He said the establishment of a CPF in Lentegeur was a matter of urgency.

“As quickly as possible, so we can engage with the community and the station on violence and specifically gang violence in the area,” said Mr Foflonker.

Captain Ian Williams, Mitchell’s Plain police station spokesman, confirmed the girls were caught in crossfire by rival gangs.

“The victims were taken to hospital for medical treatment,” he said.

The police are investigating two cases of attempted murder.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call investigating officer, Detective Sergeant Billy Burrows, from Mitchell’s Plain SAPS’ Serious and Violent Crime Unit, on 082 777 8076.

Abie Isaacs, Mitchell’s Plain CPF chairman, said they had been consulting with their partners, the South African Police Service (SAPS) about the killings.

“The community is in uproar over the senseless killings along with the increased shootings that are taking place across Mitchell’s Plain. As the CPF, we strongly condemn these killings and the ongoing shooting,” he said.

Mr Isaacs called on the community to come forward and to report these gunmen “who are a minority in our community.”

He said the police were doing all it could, with the resources available to them.

“We are also asking parents to stop covering up for their children, who they know are involved in these killings. We have seen enough bloodshed and we need to take back our streets and not allow these criminals to continue to hold us hostage,” said Mr Isaacs.

Mitchell’s Plain residents gathered at Botha Street salaah ghaana (prayer room), in Eastville Heights, in Sunday April 8 to vent their frustration at the ongoing violent crime, rocking their community.

They had applied to march to gang leaders’ homes, demanding of them to stop the bloodshed on Wednesday April 4 but due to a lack of police presence on Sunday, they were unable to take to the streets.

Captain Williams said when marches were held, protocol had to be followed.

“The community needs to contact the municipal councillors of their area. The number of people due to attend accounted for, the route must be declared, there must be enough marshalls and the meeting place must be confirmed.”

Osman de Jong, Eastville Heights Islamic Society spokesman, said the community needed to take back its streets. “The fear of getting shot should turn into courage. We should stand together to stop gang violence,” he said.

Community worker Mogamat Nur Arendse said many people had died in these gang-related attacks.

“Innocent people have died in the proces. There are many challenges in my community, especially the young people, they have nothing substantial to keep them occupied,” he said.

Mr Arendse said while Sunday’s meeting to march was not done properly, the community needed to keep the ball rolling, to have another march take place soon. He said the community had to be educated on gang violence, so that something could be done from within the community.

Mr Arendse added that a partnership with the police was needed to make gatherings more valuable and relevant to the community.

Staff members from Mitchell’s Plain Crisis Line, a community-based (CBO), non-profit organisation (NPO) which provides telephonic and face-to-face counselling services for survivors of violence said in a statement: “We are all affected by the murders in our community and we’re all scared. It is people we know within our community that has affected us all. We feel as though we are held hostage within our own community, we cannot go to the shop, or next door affter 6pm. As parents, we fear for the safety of our children too. The counsellors do not want to work in our communities anymore because it is so dangerous. Something needs to be done.”

One of the community leaders, Kariema Daniels from Eastridge said: “It is very troubling that the people we grew up with, that are our neighbors, are dying around us. We are aware of people getting hurt and we need to do something.”