Girl, 12, killed by stray bullet

Grade 7 pupil Firdous Kleinsmidt, 12, died after being hit by a stray bullet.

A 12-year-old girl died after being hit by a stray bullet at a Beacon Valley primary school yesterday.

Firdous Kleinsmidt, who was in Grade 7 at Ieglaasi Nieyah Primary School, was about to leave the school after an alert was sent to parents about shooting.

The police say rival gangs were shooting in the area.

Teacher Zainab Floris had been signing Firdous out to the scholar transport driver.

“I was busy writing her details down when she fell over. The bullet went past my head because she was standing right in front of me,” said Ms Floris.

She said they had started hearing gunshots at about 10.30am when the younger children had been having break, and then messages had been posted on a crime-watch WhatsApp group warning that the area was volatile.

“The parents then either fetched their children or sent transport to collect their children,” she said.

Ms Floris said everyone was in shock and the school would be arranging counselling for teachers and pupils.

“Firdous was a dedicated learner and eager to participate in extra mural activities, including the school’s nasheed group and soccer,” she said.

Ward councillor Solomon Philander sent out a call at noon for the deployment of Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (LEAP) officers to the area and greater SAPS visibility.

“I made contact with the various schools to ensure that every child in their care is safe and that we co-ordinate efforts to reunite all children from school with their families and school dismissal times,” he said in a statement.

Police Oversight and Community Safety MEC Reagen Allen said the incident angered him deeply.

“This is yet another young life that’s been unnecessarily taken from us. My sincere condolences go to the family, loved ones, fellow learners and staff at the school of the girl. My prayer is that they will find comfort in their pain,” he said.

The Imamat Council of Mitchell’s Plain condemned the incident, calling for those responsible to be brought to justice.

“This incident is yet another example of how rife violence is within our communities, and it emphasises the need for our communities to join hands as we work jointly to rid our communities of the scourge of gangsterism, drugs and all forms of social ills,” said the council’s statement.

The council called on the authorities to intensify efforts to protect schools and children.

“We call upon our community to lend support to the Kleinsmidt family during this ordeal and to plan an active role in identifying the perpetrators and bringing them to justice.”

Provincial police spokesman Warrant Officer Joseph Swartbooi said Mitchell’s Plain police were investigating a case of murder.

“According to reports a 12 year old girl was caught in a crossfire between rival gangs, and was shot and killed by a stray bullet,” he said.

She was declared dead on the scene by medical personnel.

“The unknown suspects fled the scene and are yet to be arrested,” said Warrant Officer Swartbooi.

Anyone with information about the shooting can call Anti-Gang Unit investigating officer Detective Sergeant Bradley Schuurman at 071 673 3841 or Crime Stop at 086 001 0111.