A cruel world

Ester Wood, Eastridge

Growing up on the Cape Flats is fun and exciting when you’re young but also dangerous in your innocence.

When we moved to Mitchell’s Plain, we thought it would be a new beginning, only to find out it only brought death and sadness to our lives.

I was seven years old when we moved to Mitchell’s Plain. My two brothers were older than me. After my youngest brother dropped out of school he was attending to our housekeeping.

One day he came home and informed us that certain gang members knocked him out and made him a gang member by force. After that incident he became a well-known gangster in our community.

I never saw him rob or harm someone; he was always clean and well-mannered. Everyone loved my youngest brother or that was what we thought.

A few days before my brother’s death he cleaned his room and washed his clothes. His clothes and his room were so clean you could eat off the floor. It was not strange to see him do that but the way he did it was like he was expecting a very important visitor.

The night of his death my mother, my two sisters and I were at home. As usual, my youngest sister and I were watching TV because it was January and the school was still closed for the holidays. My mother was in bed and because my eldest sister was working, she was also upstairs in our room.

Earlier that evening my youngest brother came home to fetch his cap. I just heard him say as he left, “I hope my legs will not disappoint me when I have to run tonight”.

If I knew then that that was the last time I would hear his voice and see him alive, I would have forgiven him for all the quarrels we had. I would have grabbed him and hugged and told him, “I love you Isaac”.

The minutes ticked by and I think it was before or after 10pm, when my eldest sister came running and screaming down from upstairs to my mother with great panic: “Mamma! I just heard gunshots fired and it sounded like it was coming from nearby”. My mother calmed her down, saying, “Don’t worry Jenny, maybe it was far from us”.

As my sister walked back to the room, she looked shocked and frightened.

A few minutes after the gunshots, there was a knock at our back door. My mother opened the door and we were greeted by a woman full of blood and tears. The only words she spoke were, “Sorry Mrs Wood, Isaac, your son, is dead. He was killed just a few minutes ago.”

I don’t know what went through my mother’s head, but we as sisters ran to where my brother was shot, only a few metres from our house in the next street.

My mother and us could not view my brother’s body because it was gruesome to see. Only my eldest brother was tough enough to view his youngest brother’s body. I heard him say to my mother, “I told him, but he did not listen”.

My brother was gunned down like an animal.

The people who pulled the trigger didn’t want this 20-year-old young man to ever see the light again.

We don’t know why my brother had to die so close to his home where he was well-known to everyone in the area. Some people saw the killers but their faces were covered in balaclavas. A hit – well-organised because his killers were never caught.

His death left us heartbroken and sad for years to come.

How many young men and women are killed every day due to gang violence? Most of these cases run cold because of a lack of evidence and witnesses. How do we as the families of the deceased get closure when the cold-hearted killers still roam the streets? When is government ever going to protect us as innocent citizens of these cold-hearted killers on the Cape Flats?

In memory of Isaac Wood who died on January 8 1991.