Two sons die, another injured in ongoing Helenvale bloodshed, writes
Either you die or you end up in jail, says Bernard Valentine, talking emotionally about life in a gang – and he should know.
A former gang member who has lost two sons to ongoing violence in Helenvale, Valentine has spent the last two weeks sitting at yet another son’s hospital bed as he recovers from a bullet wound to the stomach.
Valentine is now left with just two sons, Brendon Mintoor, 24, and Leroy, 36, nearly losing Brendon, who was shot in Ibex Street two weeks ago.
Brendon is tearful as he speaks about his dead brothers and the memories they made.
“I have lost so much already, I’ve already lost two brothers, our family continues to live under threat,” Mintoor said, tears rolling down his cheeks.
A budding soccer star, Tiaan, 18, was gunned down on October 1 2015 a few metres from his home.
A year and five days after the first anniversary of Tiaan’s death, his elder brother Gregory, 38, was gunned down outside Valentine’s home shortly after coming home from work.
This year alone, The Herald and Weekend Post have reported on at least 15 gang-related shooting incidents in the northern areas where people, including innocent bystanders, have been killed or injured in the crossfire.
Valentine’s wife, 57-year-old Maureen Mintoor, and the rest of the family still struggle with the senseless deaths and Valentine fears losing Maureen as well as she suffers from asthma and high blood pressure.
“The deaths have impacted the family tremendously,” he said,
“My wife has not been well, this has had a massive effect on her emotional state as well as her health.”
Valentine claims to know who killed his sons.
In Gregory’s case, Valentine believes he was the actual target as he was due to testify against those accused of murdering Tiaan.
Valentine says gangsters, in attempts to have cases against them dropped, either carry out hits themselves or hire others to kill off witnesses.
The family believes Tiaan was targeted by gangsters who believed he was a member of a rival gang.
Valentine, however, vehemently denies that Tiaan was in a gang.
Having grown up in Schauderville, before moving to Helenvale in the mid-1980s, Valentine said only two gangs had existed then – the Mafias and the Mongrels.
A few years later, the Boomshaka gang was formed and Valentine joined them as he was constantly being threatened by gangsters.
“Back then, gangsters fought with knives, pangas [machetes] and stones.
“We had to be up in each other’s faces.
“Today, they shoot people who can’t defend themselves. Now women get raped and murdered – it’s just not safe anymore.
“Joining a gang can end in two ways, either you die or you end up in jail.”
Valentine’s daughter, Priscilla, said the idea of losing any more family members was more than she could bear.
“At times I feel so despondent. I’ve lost a boyfriend, two brothers and almost a third as well,” she said.
“We live like prisoners in our own homes. I don’t understand why we must fight for parts of Katanga [Helenvale].
“We can all stay here together, there is a piece for everyone.”
Priscilla said the rest of the family had been protected through their strong relationship with God.