Protests after teen shot dead
Angry Helenvale residents shut down streets in Nelson Mandela Bay’s northern areas on Thursday following the shooting of a 17-year-old Gelvandale High School pupil – which police say was gang-related.
The residents threatened to burn down two houses with links to gangs after Zavier “Zenna” Jassen was gunned down a short distance from Kobus Road, which is notorious for gang violence.
Jassen’s body was found in Sagard Road, Helenvale, at about 7.30pm on Wednesday.
Police spokesperson Colonel Priscilla Naidu said the teenager was found lying in the street following a tip-off.
“He had a gunshot wound to his head.”
Naidu said while the murder was believed to be gang-related, Jassen was not known to police as a gangster.
A close family friend who was among the crowd that shut down Oliphant Street and Voisen Road claimed the shooting of the grade 11 pupil was premeditated.
“Zenna was just a school-loving boy [and] was not part of any gang. He did not deserve what happened to him.”
The woman, who declined to be named, described him as fun, quiet and peace-loving.
“They [killers] planned to shoot him because they [Jassen and his friends] got a threat on [Monday] that they were going to shoot the whole group of friends, my son included.
“I am not scared because they are cowards,” she said.
Public order police and members of the gang unit were on the scene and a man was picked up during the protests for questioning.
Naidu said the man had been taken in for questioning but was not detained.
Ward 13 councillor Pieter Hermaans, who is related to Jassen, compared his murder to that of another relative, Jassen’s cousin Keeno Charles, who died in a similar fashion.
Charles, 17, was killed in Voisen Road in 2016.
He was also a grade 11 pupil at Gelvandale High.
Hermaans said he and the community felt failed by the justice system as these kinds of murders happened daily.
“They [killers] fired into the shack where they [Jassen and his friends] frequently visit.
“That is the same shack where Keeno was killed. They shot there first, thinking that they were inside,” Hermaans said.
Keeno’s tombstone was unveiled just two weeks ago.
“We cannot be an audience to our children getting killed.
“The police station is less than 100 metres from where the [gangs] are [operating],” Hermaans said.
“The justice system has failed us, the police failed us, there is no order in this country,” he said.
“By now someone in the ministerial portfolio should have spotted that something is wrong in Port Elizabeth because gangsters are getting arrested then they walk out [of jail].”
The Helenvale community has planned to converge on the area again on Friday to decide what their next step will be.
Naidu said: “The circumstances and motive for the shooting – and who was involved – remain unknown at this stage.”..