A TALE of two Port Elizabeth mothers dealing with the consequences of mayhem on northern areas streets as suspected gangsters, criminals and police exchanged gunfire, emerged yesterday.
For one, it was the horror of seeing her young cricket-loving son critically wounded in his own yard as gangland thugs exchanged fire. For another, it was not knowing whether her adult son – a robbery suspect – was dead or alive after being shot multiple times during a police chase.
“We always tell the kids that when they hear shots or see people running in the street they must run home, but Cilvanio was looking for a cricket ball so I think he was distracted,” the mother of eightyear- old Cilvanio Draai said.
She was describing the incident in which he was caught up in a suspected gang battle in Pienaar Street, Helenvale, on Tuesday.
Cilvanio is on a ventilator at Greenacres Hospital. His mother, Mary-Anne Draai, said the Grade 1 Parkside Primary pupil had had the day off school as it was prize-giving.
“I was busy with the washing. He was playing cricket,” she said. “Suddenly, I heard shots. We tried to get the children inside. “I saw my son running towards me, crying. “I thought he was just in shock, but then I saw he was bleeding.“He was just crying all the time.” Cilviano’s father, Cilvian Charles, said he had immediately phoned for an ambulance.
“Cilviano was shot in the right side of his chest and the bullet went out of his left side,” he said. “It injured his liver, spleen, lungs and stomach.” Cilviano was taken to hospital by Gardmed medics and under went emergency surgery to remove his spleen.
He is scheduled for further surgery today. “Shootings happen so often . . . that the children know they must run home,” Draai said. Charles said detectives came to see him yesterday and assured him they would do everything they could to arrest the shooters.
“But the detective said they had no clues,” he said. “I went to ask people if they had seen anything, but people are scared. They do not want to talk.” Charles said police had collected spent cartridges everywhere around his house. Charles, who runs the Helenvale Cricket Club, said Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Danny Jordaan visited them on Tuesday night.
“He said they had a plan. Something must change in Helenvale. “We cannot carry on like this.” Charles said they were grateful for the excellent medical care their son was receiving.
“The paramedics from Gardmed were here a few times to hear how he is doing. The nurses are the very best and he has very good doctors,” Charles said.
“We hope he is going to make it.”
At another hospital, meanwhile, Esmeral – da Damons stood at the door of Livingstone’s casualty unit for eight hours on Tuesday, desperate for information on her son.
She was told earlier in the day that her son, Ridah Williams, 26 – known as Juan Williams before he converted to Islam – was shot by police during an alleged attempted hijacking. This also saw another child, Esethu Khema, 13, wounded when she was caught in the crossfire of the shootout between police and three suspects – aged between 26 and 32 – who had allegedly tried to hijack a British American Tobacco truck in New Brighton.
Damons told of her despair while waiting for information on her son throughout Tuesday night. “I heard they shot him eight times,” she said. “I did not know if he was alive or dead. Everybody said they were not allowed to talk to me.” Damons said as far as she was concerned the police had shot an innocent man.
“All anybody could tell me was that he was under very heavy police surveillance [at the hospital],” she said. “Every time I tried to go in, they would shut the door in my face.”
Damons said a nurse had come to call her early yesterday morning. “She said I must come quickly. She said they were taking him to the police cells.
“Let me tell you this, I ran down that passage to see my son. “She gave me a minute with my boy before they came to take him away. They took him out of hospital with all those injuries.
“He needs medical attention. This isn’t right. I have a huge grievance with the police. They were wrong. “The children didn’t have guns on them or anything.”
Police failed to find firearms inside the suspects’ car, but a police spokesman said earlier they suspected the firearms were tossed away during the chase.