Caught in the crossfire

Ayesha Kelly's grandmother Fayrooz Kelly and mother Inshaaf Kelly outside the tuckshop where she was shot.

Four days into the long December school holidays, a 10-year-old Tafelsig girl’s life has been cut short by rival gangs opening fire on each other metres away from her home.

Ayesha Kelly, 10, was waiting to be served at a tuckshop close to her home when rival gangs opened fire and a bullet struck her in her back on Sunday December 8 shortly after 9pm.

Parents are at their wits’ end with the too frequent bursts of shooting in the neighbourhood as rival gangs open fire on each other, even while the road is buzzing with children playing in the street.

They called their children home when they saw men running down the road towards a field in Oudekloof Street across the road from their homes on Monday December 9, hours after Ayesha was killed.

Within minutes, local police, members of SAPS’ Anti-Gang Unit and the South Africa National Defence Force were securing the area as part of SAPS’ ongoing Operation Lockdown.

Speaking to the Plainsman on the eve of Ayesha’s janaaza, her mother Inshaaf Kelly said the money was still lying next to her daughter’s body. “Ons het almal buite gestaan en gesels en na die musiek geluister. Toe kom ’* vriend se man vir my sê Ayesha is geskiet. Die pad was vol mense,” she said.

Ayesha’s grandmother Fayrooz Kelly, a former chairperson of their street committee, said this was not the first shooting in recent months.

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Six months ago, two men were shot, one died on the scene and the other at hospital, and then in September a man was shot dead in the same vicinity.

“Haar liggaam was nog nie koud nie. Hulle het net haar liggaam kom optel toe skiet hulle weer,” she said.

Ms Kelly senior said she had been to the family of one of the three alleged shooters, who are due in court today Wednesday December 11.

“I just wanted them to know that I don’t blame them but my granddaughter is dead,” she said.

She was also planning a street party to congratulate all of the children in the road, who passed and “passed well just like Ayesha”.

Ayesha’s mom said there has been shooting in recent weeks and that it was men, who had been released from jail and were on the streets again.

“This loadshedding is not helping matters either, as they shoot when the lights are out,” she said. “Daar was ‘* klomp ander kinders in die pad maar my kind is geskiet.”

She said Ayesha was a good child, who often played on her own but who was very caring and motherly towards her two younger brothers.

Norman Adonis, chairperson of the Mitchell’s Plain Community Police Forum Tafelsig sub-forum, said they would discuss Ayesha’s shooting and the community’s concerns at their next meeting.

Social media influencer and poet, Chelsea Goliath, 22, who lives two doors away from Ayesha, said it was shocking that such a young life was taken.

“I don’t have words. I had to tell my nephew several days ago to remain on the ground as the shootings in my area have been ongoing. Load shedding is a major contributor to this horrific crime. When the lights are out, this gives the criminals reason to shoot in the area. The lights are supposed to be kept on in times like this.”

She said the shootings have intensified lately.

Western Cape police spokesperson, Brigadier Novela Potelwa, said Mitchell’s Plain SAPS and the Anti-Gang Unit members responded to the shooting on Sunday night.

“Two men were arrested – the first suspect, 26, was arrested in Olifantshoek Street and shortly thereafter another man, 21, with an unlicensed firearm was also arrested not far from the scene.

“Both suspects are believed to have strong links with local gangs,” she said.

A third man was arrested on Monday December 9.

The men are due to appear in Mitchell’s Plain Magistrate’s Court today, Wednesday December 11.