11-year-old boy shot in Helenvale gang chaos

Gareth Wilson wilsong@avusa.co.za

NORTHERN Areas police have called in reinforcements in a bid to restore order after an 11-year-old boy was badly wounded in a hail of bullets during a gang shooting in Helenvale yesterday.

Gang violence in the area has spiked since Friday, leaving two people dead and six wounded in eight separate attacks. Grade 4 Helenvale Primary School pupil Cheslyn Jantjies was shot above the hip shortly after 10am yesterday when two gunmen opened fire while he was standing in the doorway of the Sollow In The Centre shop in Kobus Road.

The men fired 12 shots into the shop before running away and firing a further four random shots at bystanders.

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“It was scary,” Cheslyn said from his hospital bed in Livingstone Hospital yesterday afternoon.

“I went to the shop to buy bread and while I was standing there one man stood outside the door and just started shooting.

“I did not know what to do and ran behind the arcade machines in the shop. The next thing I remember is seeing blood and then waking up in hospital.”

A 17-year-old in the shop was shot in the arm and his 21-year-old friend in the buttocks. They are believed to be gangsters and police suspect they were the targets of the gunmen. They were admitted to hospital. Two suspects, aged 17 and 18, were arrested yesterday afternoon.

The police have attributed the recent upsurge in shootings to the ongoing drug turf war which has now seen some of the 14 gangs in Helenvale join forces in an attempt to eliminate competition.

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Alwin Labans said an emergency meeting had been held earlier this week at which the top brass had mandated two specialist 11-member task teams to track down and arrest the “main suspects” behind the shootings.

“We are trying our best to curb the gang violence and it had been working very well until this recent spate of shootings,” Labans said.

“We are still running Operation Shakuma in the area, but have now intensified our clampdown with the objective to arrest these culprits and bring order to the streets. In all of these shootings, it is teenagers who have now joined gangs,” he said.

“We have also tasked members from the flying squad, dog unit, tactical response team and our gang unit to assist with the clampdown operation. We will get to the bottom of these shootings and arrest anyone involved.”

Residents in the area, who did not want to be named because they feared for their safety, said Kobus Road was mainly occupied by members of the Blink Bomelaars and the gangsters who had been involved in the shooting yesterday were from the Shotta gang who dominated a nearby street.

“We have had enough. I think it is time for mob justice as innocent people keep on dying and these gangsters just do not care. We need to stand together and hunt these gangsters down,” a resident said.

The shop manager, who also did not want to be named, said he had been sitting behind the counter when he saw the gunmen standing at the entrance.

“One man took out a gun and started shooting. I got such a fright, I just ducked straight behind the counter,” he said. “After they ran away, I looked around and saw three people had been shot.The next thing, they ran out and into a house across the road.”

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