A mother’s painful ordeal

2019-05-14 06:00

A mother of eight, living in Lavender Hill, has lost three of her own to gang violence, and now also her grandson.

She talks to People’s Post about getting through these trying times, knowing the very real social problems that the community faces daily.

Three children lost to gang warfare

“I had eight children. My first child fell victim to the social ills when he was just 17-years-old. He was stabbed to death 23 years ago over a disagreement while gambling,” she says.

The loss of her second child took place just over two years ago as a result of gang warfare. “He got shot here, right outside the Flats,” she recalls.

And now Berenice is the third one (to die from gang violence),” says Patricia Swartz, whose daughter, Berenice Noble, was shot around 05:00 on Thursday 25 April in a gang-related incident.

According to Patricia and Christopher Swartz, their daughter, Berenice, did not belong to any of the prominent gangs in the area and was targeted as a result of her son’s affiliations.

“There are two rival gangs. One gang right here at the back is the Flakka and we’ve got the Mongrels on this side of Lavender Hill,” Christopher says, gesturing to where the gang is based.

Berenice’s story

Berenice was shot six times just outside the Pontac Court flats on Blode Street, within walking distance of her family’s residence. It is understood by the family that the events leading up to the shooting were in an effort to find Herschelle Noble, her son, who allegedly belonged to the Mongrel gang at first.

“There was a quarrel going on, on this side, and he had to go over to that side because they were threatening him with his life, so he went to stay where the Flakkas are and they got to know him. Just when they thought he was going to stay with them, he came back home to Lavender Hill, to the Mongrels,” Christopher explains.

Patricia adds: “What my grandchild told me is that he didn’t have a choice, he had to go with them when the Flakka called him.

He went with them and they gave him a gun and said that he must take the gun back with him to shoot a Mongrel. He came back and gave the gun to the Mongrels and stayed there (on Mongrel territory).”

Apathetically, she says that on the night that Berenice was shot, the Flakka gang members were on a manhunt for Herschelle which led them to the flat where Berenice was living for just a few months.

According to one of Patricia’s grandchildren who were with Berenice before she left, Berenice was confident to accompany the gangsters to where her son could have been because they were not looking for her. They say that she did not expect the attack.

Drugs and gangsterism

The most prominent problems in the Flats are the drugs and gangsterism, which stem from the socio-economic problems in the community – lack of jobs, education and good role models.

With few avenues of making money for their families, and to fulfil their need to belong, many residents of the Flats turn to the gangs to find what they’ve been in search of – which comes at a hefty price.

According to Patricia, more than two of her children and grandchildren have been involved with the gangs in the area and drugs.

Referring again to her second child to fall victim to gang-related crimes, Patricia says he was shot dead while dealing drugs in the Flats for a Mongrel merchant.

Berenice, while not affiliated with any of the gangs, was a drug user.

“She would do her drugs and she would do her tik. She would get it from her friends – she knew a lot of people in Lavender Hill,” she explains.

“I only have one daughter now, because I had two daughters, but now Berenice was killed.”

A matter of choice

Patricia and Christopher agree that what has become of the Flats and their children is as a result of the choices that have been made.

“It’s your children’s own choices that they make on their own,” Patricia says.

They hope to steer their grandchildren in the right direction by getting them involved in the church and with activities that will keep them off the streets.

Christopher says that Berenice’s children are filling up a number of roles in the church, with one of her son’s taking up the role of a bass guitarist.

They don’t intend to relocate to keep the children away from the social ills of the community based on the fact that they’ve lived there all their lives and they believe that it’s the peoples’ responsibility to change.

“If we’re moving to another area, we’re moving to the same thing because the gangsters stay everywhere,” Christopher said.

Patricia continued: “The people have to turn their lives around. It’s not the place. It’s the people. Everywhere in the Flats is the same.”

When asked how they’re able to remain so calm and unmoved, approaching the funeral of their daughter, Christopher said their faith is what helps them through all the problems they encounter in the Flats.

Patricia confirmed her heartbreak, despite her indifferent appearance. “I feel my children’s deaths. It’s painful.”

After the Swartz’s interview, Herschelle was shot and killed in the early hours of Monday 6 May, just hours after burying his mother.

A mother of eight, living in Lavender Hill, has lost three of her own to gang violence, and now also her grandson.

She talks to People’s Post about getting through these trying times, knowing the very real social problems that the community faces daily.

Three children lost to gang warfare

“I had eight children. My first child fell victim to the social ills when he was just 17-years-old. He was stabbed to death 23 years ago over a disagreement while gambling,” she says.

The loss of her second child took place just over two years ago as a result of gang warfare. “He got shot here, right outside the Flats,” she recalls.

And now Berenice is the third one (to die from gang violence),” says Patricia Swartz, whose daughter, Berenice Noble, was shot around 05:00 on Thursday 25 April in a gang-related incident.

According to Patricia and Christopher Swartz, their daughter, Berenice, did not belong to any of the prominent gangs in the area and was targeted as a result of her son’s affiliations.

“There are two rival gangs. One gang right here at the back is the Flakka and we’ve got the Mongrels on this side of Lavender Hill,” Christopher says, gesturing to where the gang is based.

Berenice’s story

Berenice was shot six times just outside the Pontac Court flats on Blode Street, within walking distance of her family’s residence.

It is understood by the family that the events leading up to the shooting were in an effort to find Herschelle Noble, her son, who allegedly belonged to the Mongrel gang at first.

“There was a quarrel going on, on this side, and he had to go over to that side because they were threatening him with his life, so he went to stay where the Flakkas are and they got to know him. Just when they thought he was going to stay with them, he came back home to Lavender Hill, to the Mongrels,” Christopher explains.

Patricia adds: “What my grandchild told me is that he didn’t have a choice, he had to go with them when the Flakka called him.

He went with them and they gave him a gun and said that he must take the gun back with him to shoot a Mongrel. He came back and gave the gun to the Mongrels and stayed there (on Mongrel territory).”

Apathetically, she says that on the night that Berenice was shot, the Flakka gang members were on a manhunt for Herschelle which led them to the flat where Berenice was living for just a few months.

According to one of Patricia’s grandchildren who were with Berenice before she left, Berenice was confident to accompany the gangsters to where her son could have been because they were not looking for her. They say that she did not expect the attack.

Drugs and gangsterism

The most prominent problems in the Flats are the drugs and gangsterism, which stem from the socio-economic problems in the community – lack of jobs, education and good role models.

With few avenues of making money for their families, and to fulfil their need to belong, many residents of the Flats turn to the gangs to find what they’ve been in search of – which comes at a hefty price.

According to Patricia, more than two of her children and grandchildren have been involved with the gangs in the area and drugs.

Referring again to her second child to fall victim to gang-related crimes, Patricia says he was shot dead while dealing drugs in the Flats for a Mongrel merchant.

Berenice, while not affiliated with any of the gangs, was a drug user.

“She would do her drugs and she would do her tik. She would get it from her friends – she knew a lot of people in Lavender Hill,” she explains.

“I only have one daughter now, because I had two daughters, but now Berenice was killed.”

A matter of choice

Patricia and Christopher agree that what has become of the Flats and their children is as a result of the choices that have been made.

“It’s your children’s own choices that they make on their own,” Patricia says.

They hope to steer their grandchildren in the right direction by getting them involved in the church and with activities that will keep them off the streets.

Christopher says that Berenice’s children are filling up a number of roles in the church, with one of her son’s taking up the role of a bass guitarist.

They don’t intend to relocate to keep the children away from the social ills of the community based on the fact that they’ve lived there all their lives and they believe that it’s the peoples’ responsibility to change.

“If we’re moving to another area, we’re moving to the same thing because the gangsters stay everywhere,” Christopher said.

Patricia continued: “The people have to turn their lives around. It’s not the place. It’s the people. Everywhere in the Flats is the same.”

When asked how they’re able to remain so calm and unmoved, approaching the funeral of their daughter, Christopher said their faith is what helps them through all the problems they encounter in the Flats.

Patricia confirmed her heartbreak, despite her indifferent appearance. “I feel my children’s deaths. It’s painful.”

After the Swartz’s interview, Herschelle was shot and killed in the early hours of Monday 6 May, just hours after burying his mother.

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