Six dead in one week

Mitchell’s Plain police have urged the Rocklands community to take back their streets after a spate of gang-related killings in the area over the past few weeks.

Ten people have been shot in Rocklands in one week, with six fatalities, between Sunday October 30 and Friday November 4.

In the latest shooting in Arabian Street on Friday November 4, two people were killed and one injured.

Wade Arends, 18, a Westridge High matric pupil and Imraan Gafieldien, 24, were killed in the shooting while Amien Soeker, 25, is recovering in hospital.

Two men, aged 20 and 19, were arrested for the Arabian Street shootings and appeared in the Mitchell’s Plain Magistrate’s Court on Monday November 7. They were denied bail and remanded in custody.

Their next court appearance is on Monday November 14.

A day before the Arabian Street shooting, on Thursday November 3, two people were shot in Kittyhawk Road, and another man, who tried to escape the shooting, was followed and gunned down a few roads away, in Tempest Close.

One man died and the other two are still recovering in hospital.

Police said they received a complaint of the Kittyhawk shooting at 7.58pm.

When they arrived on the scene, they found three people had been shot in the street.

The one victim, a 23-year-old man, had a gunshot wound to his face. He died on the scene.

The two other victims, aged 26 and 32 years old, were shot on the left side of their bodies and taken to hospital for treatment. One of the victims was an innocent bystander.

Police said three male suspects were on foot and started shooting at the deceased, thereafter the suspects ran further down thPolice said three men were on foot and started shooting at the deceased, thereafter they ran further down the road and shot at the second victim who was in the street at the time.

The suspects then ran on and shot the third victim – an innocent bystander – injuring him on the side of his body.

Captain Ian Williams, Mitchell’s Plain police spokesperson, said there have been no arrests for the Kittyhawk Road or Spreeu Street shootings.

The Plainsman was on the scene just minutes after the Kittyhawk Road shooting occurred.

The body of the man who had been killed, known only as “Gagga” in the community, was lying outside Ralph Bailey’s home.

Mr Bailey said he did not feel safe in his neighbourhood anymore but believed a big part of the solution was for the community to stand together.

“I was inside the house when I heard six gunshots. When I came outside he (the victim) was lying outside. Innocent people are going to get hurt.

“We must stand together against the gangsters. Our children’s lives are in danger,” he said.

Another resident, Claire Marcus, said the ongoing shootings had made it unsafe to walk to public transport routes in the mornings.

Two days before this killing, a 32-year-old man was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting in Heinkel Street, a few metres from his home.

His murder was preceded by the fatal shooting of two men, aged 21 and 38, in Spreeu Street on Sunday October 30 (“Two dead and one injured in Rocklands shooting,” Plainsman, November 2). A 29-year-old woman was shot in both legs, in the same incident.

According to police, the Spreeu Street shooting victims were on their way to the shop when the incident occurred.

Another murder the community believed is tied to the ongoing gang fight is that of Adriaan “Gelaggies” de Vos, 27, who was brutally murdered in August. His body was found in the dunes behind Cedar High School (“Man found shot, tied up in Rocklands bushes,” Plainsman, August 17).

And although Rocklands residents say they are living in fear while rival gangs are taking each other out, the police say they would not call it a “gang war”.

Mitchell’s Plain police station commander, Brigadier Cass Goolam, confirmed there was “animosity between the Terrible School Boys and Americans gangs, “but I would not call it a war”. “Let’s not romantacise it. We are giving them status. What is a gangster on his own nothing. The residents are the heroes. They are the ones who walk to work alone in the dark without any weapons. Nobody can defeat a united community.”

Brigadier Goolam said the fight is over territory “a phenomenon no one can explain” and not about drugs as many believe.

“We can’t explain the territory fight. It could be that most of them grew up in the area. We have done our intelligence and I have worked all over but we have only seen this here (Cape Flats).

“It cannot be over drugs. There is a surplus of drugs at the moment. Why would they want to enclose themselves if they have customers throughout the Cape Flats,” he said.

The other possibility, he said, was that gangsters were trying to move up the ranks and this could be done, either through money or killings.

Brigadier Goolam said Rocklands was the biggest and most populated of the nine sectors in his precinct and even though the neighbourhood watch was the biggest, it had still not been enough.

The Rocklands shootings, he said, was a sudden flare-up as there was a “drastic reduction in contact crime – which is gang related crimes – as indicated in the latest crime statistics released in July. “We have responded to what is happening. As proof our police cells are even too full the way we have made arrests. We are working on it but the approach is multi-dimensional,” he said.

He said there was a growing concern about a trend where people attack the police when they were conducting stop-and-searches and when attending to crime scenes.

“Most incidents happen in front of the community. They are witnesses. When we assist, we come under attack.

“Where I come from, the gangsters do not operate in the neighbourhoods. I have been in Mitchell’s Plain since 2009 and I find it strange that the community allows this.

“I must also stress that there are pockets where people do work with the police and link up with us.”

Brigadier Goolam said people should not allow fear to keep them hiding behind their gates.

“My take is that people cannot use the excuse of fear for their lives and intimidation because they are already unable to live their lives freely any way. They face fear and intimidation any way. Parents need to make a sacrifice if they want a future generation. They need to take back their communities and spaces. Join the street committees and neighbourhood watches. We are saying, don’t go braai in your backyard, do it in front of your gate where you can see who is going pass you.”

“There are a lot of decent people who live in Mitchell’s Plain. The community needs to root out the bad ones. I am calling on the community – don’t let your decency stand in the way of your freedom.

Brigadier Goolam said the community was reluctant to come forward with information on crimes and did not attend court to oppose bail hearings.

Abie Isaacs, the Mitchell’s Plain Community Police Forum chairperson, said there were only five residents who attended the bail hearing of the two men who appeared in court for the Arabian Street shootings.“There have been shootings for days and this is the turn-out in court. We want to appeal to the community to come in numbers,” he said.

Anyone with information on these shootings, can call the Mitchell’s Plain Crime Investigation Department a Lentegeur police station at 021 377 5042 or 082 777 8076.