Ironic twist in latest gang killings
A bullet-riddled body lying in the middle of the northern areas’ busiest road – just kilometres from the Chatty Community Centre where an anticrime summit was being held – was proof of the “war” destroying the community.
That was the view of some residents, who slammed organisers of the anti-crime summit held on Wednesday which, they said, did not involve the residents – the real victims of the constant onslaught by criminals.
The latest victim – a 24-year-old man gunned down in broad daylight while fleeing his broken-down car in a bustling Stanford Road in Helenvale – was killed barely 12 hours after a woman was shot dead when she answered a knock at the door of her Gelvandale home.
Both murders are believed to be gang-related.
The chilling irony of this bloodshed during, and just hours before, the DA-hosted summit was not lost on Bethelsdorp Community Policing Forum chair Karen Kemp, who said it was not the first such incident to happen while they were at a meeting discussing ways to combat crime.
“We are living in an abnormal society and we need to make it normal again.
“Children carry guns and when asked about role models all they want is to be gangsters and drive a BMW.”
Kemp said relevant stakeholders and police needed to unite with the community and assist the forum’s patrollers with equipment.
“We may not be able to eradicate crime – and we may have all the plans, but we need actions.
“They [police] need to provide equipment and a budget for the patrollers,” she said.
The body of the Stanford Road shooting victim, whose identity has not yet been released, was lying covered in the middle of the road on Wednesday while police inspected the navy blue Citi Golf, watched by curious onlookers.
The car’s back passenger window was shattered.
Police spokesperson Colonel Priscilla Naidu said the shooting happened at about 10.20am after the Golf, with three people inside, broke down.
“One person got out of the car and climbed into a passing taxi which drove off.
“The other two people remained inside,” she said.
“It is alleged a gold-coloured VW Golf stopped nearby, five occupants got out and two approached the blue Golf and started shooting at it.”
The 24-year-old was shot in the neck and stomach while trying to run away and a 22year-old man was shot multiple times in the legs.
Naidu said the victims were suspected to be members of the Goodfellas gang and the shooting was linked to the ongoing gang turf wars.
On Tuesday, at about 11pm, Yannick Mariska Jacobs, 30, was shot inside her Steenbok Street home.
Naidu said Jacobs had been watching television in the lounge with her mother when she spotted two men outside the house on their CCTV cameras.
“One of the men knocked on the door. When Jacobs opened the door, two shots were fired at her.
“She sustained a gunshot wound to her neck.”
A Booysen Park resident, who did not want to be named and attended the summit after finding out about it on the internet, said the meeting would not help end the nightmare of gang-related killings.
“A man just died now,” the woman said.
“The officials here [at the summit] should have all gone to the crime scene [to] actually get an idea of what we go through every day.
“There are no residents invited to this summit – yet residents are the ones whose lives are at stake because of the gangsterism.
“The police tell us they confiscate guns, but every day there are shootings.
“Just two weeks ago, six people were shot dead in our ward 29, but there was no visibility of metro police [afterwards], yet they say they are working on it.”
As the summit took place in the Bay, in another corner of the province ANC MPL Christian Martin was still playing his part in the fight against northern areas crime – seemingly winning an inch on Wednesday.
Martin, who staged an extraordinary protest by sleeping in a coffin outside Eastern Cape premier Phumulo Masualle’s office in Bhisho, finally garnered some attention – with Masualle’s office saying the premier would be part of a highlevel delegation to the northern areas, on a date still to be established.
The group would include police minister Bheki Cele.
Masualle’s spokesperson, Sizwe Kupelo, said the visit to the area depended on when Masualle, Cele and provincial safety and liaison MEC Weziwe Tikana would all be available.
Martin said he and other activists with him in Bhisho would only pack up once the date for the visit had been set.
“The intervention we want to see is a multi-pronged approach – it’s not just about bringing in the gang unit,” he said.
“We have a socioeconomic problem that existed way before 1994 that was designed for our people in the townships and in the northern areas to live like this.
“And we don’t expect it [gang problem] to be fixed overnight, but we can at least intervene with a multipronged intervention [because] the anti-gang unit is part of the solution, not the solution.”
Addressing the Chatty summit, Booysen Park resident Benecia Zealand, 42, said lack of employment and development was one of the core contributors to gangsterism.
“In our society, a child [of] eight years drops out of school.
“There are no opportunities for jobs or programmes for our youth and all they do is walk up and down every day and that results in gangsterism.
“Our people are in serious poverty, shootings are happening almost every day and we cannot even report them to the police because we are scared of being victims – it’s bad.
“Police visibility and job creation are the only hope.”
The provincial gang unit head of detectives in the Bay, Lieutenant-Colonel Mike Grobler, told the summit: “Gangsters have legitimatised themselves.
“They invest in businesses, especially in construction, and they are also vocal in politics, but we are after them – we are going to get them all.”
He said the unit was a secretive unit but had been working with plans to arrest criminals.
He assured the community they would arrest all those implicated in gang-related crimes.
Bethelsdorp station commander Brigadier Zolani Xawuka said there were too many drug dealers and urged residents to provide solid information when reporting such crimes.
DA councillor Pieter Hermaans said the problem started with family issues and escalated.
“We need to unite to tackle this issue and fix our dysfunctional society, and stop blaming each other,” he said.