Young bystander struck as shots fired at gangster’s funeral

Stray bullet kills boy, 11


At first everyone thought 11-year-old Mbasa Dlamini had simply fallen in Makubalo Street, Kwazakhele, on Saturday afternoon.
But when he did not get up, a woman walking past rushed to his side and quickly realised he had been struck by a stray bullet fired by someone standing outside a nearby house.
This is according to an eyewitness who saw Mbasa fall to the ground after being shot.
“A group of us were standing outside watching a funeral service at a house,” the eyewitness, who declined to be named, said.
“One of the guys took out a gun and started firing shots into the air.”
He said they had gone to Makubalo Street to watch the funeral proceedings of a well-known gangster known as “Ncuncu”.
Mbasa had gone to the same street – a five-minute walk from his parents’ house – to watch as well.
They had all stood outside a house across the road.
“After the shots were fired, we saw the child collapse,” he said.
Mbasa was shot in the head just before 3pm and later declared dead at Dora Nginza Hospital.
“He fell and one lady tried to wake him up and she did manage to,” he said.
“She asked him his name and he answered. She asked him where he stayed and he then fell asleep.
“After that the child did not wake up.
“Mbasa was taken to a car and then to a hospital. I did not see him again after that.”
He said Mbasa had not screamed or shouted after being shot.
“We initially thought the boy randomly fell down because the shots were fired into the air and not at anyone specifically.”
On Sunday, people were still at the house where the gun was believed to have been fired from.
Most of the people sat under a white tent put up on the side of the property where the alleged gangster had lived.
Police were also there, picking up empty cartridges and taking photographs.
Several neighbours kept their gates locked and refused to comment on the shooting.
One woman, who declined to be named, said her grandson had told her about the shooting and she had nothing else to say.
Mbasa’s mother, Vuyokazi Dlamini, said she would only speak about the death of her son after she had identified his body on Monday.
A family relative, who initially gave his name and then asked that it not be published, said Mbasa had been a respectful, caring child.
“He was a loving person who got on well with everyone,” he said.
Police spokesperson Captain Andre Beetge said the shooting had happened at about 2.50pm.
“He was hit by a stray bullet fired from an undisclosed location,” Beetge said.
“At this point we believe that mourners attending the funeral of a [gangster] close by fired several shots, one of which hit the boy.
Beetge said a woman had picked the child up and rushed him to Dora Nginza Hospital.
When asked for details about the gangster, Beetge said he would be able to provide any further information only on Monday.
A case of murder is being investigated by the Motherwell Violent Crimes Unit and no arrests have been made.
Ward 24 councillor Kelvin Boqwana said it was devastating loss for Mbasa’s parents.
He encouraged parents to keep their children inside their homes until the municipality could secure funding for proper play areas.
“One would never blame the parents for such a tragic accident, but we would implore parents to keep a tight watch over their children while we work on developing proper playgrounds.
“I believe this is the outcome of not having places for children to play,” he said. Another day and another child mowed down by a stray bullet. This time, the shots were randomly fired at the funeral of an alleged gangster in Kwazakhele.
Eleven-year-old Mbasa Dlamini died after he was hit by the bullet, allegedly fired by one of the mourners. It is apparently a “thing” these days for residents to gather on the fringes of gangster funerals to watch.
Mbasa was one of them. He was standing with a group of residents at a boundary wall watching the funeral when he was felled by the bullet.
Someone must have seen who fired the shot, but there is a ring of silence protecting these criminals.
How many more times must the blood of an innocent child stain our streets before communities stand up and say “enough”.
The police cannot fight the scourge of violence alone.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks in fighting gangsterism and the proliferation of illegal firearms in the hands of criminals, is the silence by residents in the northern areas and townships who harbour a very real fear of becoming the next victims if they expose the gangsters.
Many of these people live surrounded by violence and regularly see, or hear, innocent bystanders shot and sometimes killed in the crossfire.
Yet police are stoned or verbally abused when called to crime scenes, instead of the communities working together with them to rid their areas of the criminals.
Police in Nelson Mandela Bay have deployed a specialist tactical intervention unit to fight crime in hotspot areas.
The heavily armed team is part of a provincial intervention programme targeting dangerous criminal gangs.
But when the police are attacked by the same people they are trying to protect, their job becomes harder. They need these communities to stand up and be counted.
A while back, one northern areas resident said: “There have always been gangsters in our neighbourhood, but now it is worse.
“Every day, there is a shooting and innocents die all the time – it’s hell.”
Parents there are too scared to let their children play outside, even in their own back yards, for fear of them being hit by stray bullets.
But when are they going to say “enough” and out these criminals instead of, in many cases, sheltering them?

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