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‘Why shoot a baby?’

Community in shock as father, seven-month-old child gunned down in bed

A hysterical young mother running around with her dead baby in her arms – this is the horrific sight that greeted neighbours following yet another suspected hit in Port Elizabeth, in which the seven-month-old little girl and her father have become the latest victims.
The shocked family of Siyabulela Vena, 40, and tiny Asesakhe – who were shot dead in their bed by intruders late on Wednesday night – are struggling to understand why he was murdered and how anyone could shoot an innocent child.
Vena was shot multiple times and his baby daughter was hit by at least two bullets while they slept in their Soweto-on-Sea home in Zwide.
Asesakhe had been lying between her parents – Vena and his 32-year-old girlfriend, who managed to escape unscathed – in the Mabaso Street shack.
The couple’s seven-year-old son, who had been sleeping in another bed next to them in the same room, was also unharmed.
Vena’s badly traumatised girlfriend and son were taken to hospital for counselling and are not being named for their protection.
This brings the latest body count involving hit-style murders in the Bay to 11 since late January.
Relatives and friends said on Thursday that Vena had been targeted on two previous occasions, by whom they presumed were the same men.
Police spokesperson Captain Andre Beetge said the attack had happened at about 10.20pm while the couple and their children were sleeping.
“According to the girlfriend, they were lying in bed when a lone gunman kicked open the front door and just started shooting.
“He [Vena] was shot in the upper body while lying on the bed and their young child was also killed.
“In a panic, the girlfriend said she pulled the blanket over her head.
“Sometime during the shooting, a second man entered the room but it is unclear if he was also shooting,” Beetge said.
“The two men then ran out of the house. Nothing appears to have been stolen.”
The shack is part of a small cluster of three homes only metres apart from each other.
One neighbour, who declined to be named for fear of repercussions, said they had been awoken by several loud bangs. “Only after they [shooters] ran away did we go out to see what had happened.
“She [Vena’s girlfriend] was hysterical – running around, screaming and crying with her child in her arms,” the man said.
“Eventually, she put the baby down and we all saw that she was dead.”
A devastated close relative of Vena’s, who also declined to be named, said that on December 21 a gang of men had come to the shack and taken Vena around to the back, where they tried to strangle him with barbed wire.
“He lost consciousness,” the relative said.
“They thought he was dead but he came to later. Then they came back in January, but he [Vena] was not here.”
Describing Wednesday’s attack, the relative said: “I heard the door being kicked, people screaming and, as I was opening the door, I heard gunshots and hid behind my wardrobe.
“When I looked out the window, I saw two men dressed in black drive away in a white car,” he said.
“I am in pain and shocked, and I have questions [about] why they killed [Vena] because he was a very sweet and quiet person who did not like to harm people.”
Another neighbour said: “We just do not know why they would do this. We are all so scared that they come back.
“He [Vena] was a nice person and I do not know why anyone would do this.
“What did he do that would make them kill him like that, with an innocent child?
“Siyabulela was a harmless man.”
A family friend, who lives two streets away from Vena’s home, said: “I heard these gunshots but at first I thought maybe someone was banging something.
“I am deeply hurt at what has happened to the Vena family.” Another relative, Sithemiso Mbusi, 31, said: “I was at home when this tragedy happened.
“I was so scared to go out because once you go out when a shooting occurs, they might as well shoot you as well.
“Vena’s girlfriend came running to my house – fearful, seeking help.
“I called the police [and] they came – they didn’t even take time.
“I still can’t believe they [attackers] shot him and the innocent child.
“We are hoping the police will find these people.”
Beetge said the motive had not yet been established but the possibility of a witness, gang or SMME-related killing could not be ruled out.
“The detectives are questioning everyone in the hope of establishing a motive,” he said.
Motherwell Cluster commander Major-General Dawie Rabie went to the home to personally oversee the crime scene.
He also pleaded with residents or anyone with any information about the murders to come forward.
“We need to see these [shooters] stopped and put behind bars.
“A young child has died because of these killers and we need to find them,” Rabie said.
“The community needs to come forward.”
He said the case was being investigated by the provincial Organised Crime Investigation Unit, which was also looking into the other murders.
On Sunday, Akhona Josah, 26, was shot dead inside his house in Cambridge Road, Veeplaas – only a few streets away from Vena’s home.
Beetge said no arrests had been made in any of the cases.

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