Cape gangsters put an end to playtime

2015-07-03 15:46
Two children play in a Manenberg park as a neighbour keeps an eye over them. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

Two children play in a Manenberg park as a neighbour keeps an eye over them. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

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Cape Town - It’s anything but happy holidays for the children in Manenberg as gang violence forces parents to keep their children behind closed doors.

After a week of sporadic shootings, police said it has been “surprisingly quiet” since Thursday night.

“It’s out of the ordinary, but it could also mean that something is brewing,” a police source said.

The most recent fatality was a man who was shot dead while standing in the yard of his Thames Avenue home on Thursday. The 24-year-old was allegedly a member of the Hard Livings gang.

An hour later a lone gunman opened fire on a house further down the street, police said. Four people were injured in the shooting, one of them a suspected gangster.

A 24-year-old man has been arrested and three others were taken in for questioning.

Never-ending

But despite the arrests, residents said they can feel the tension because the bloodshed is never-ending.

Holding her 2-year-old son on her hip, Elona Damonze watches her 9-year-old daughter play with friends on the pavement in front of her house.

“Keisha knows if she goes further than this, there will be hell to pay,” she said with a stern look at the little girl.

“Earlier this week when the shots started flying, she was at the shop around the corner. I ran out to look for her and found her crying in the street. She got such a fright that she wet herself.”

The gangsters are evil, Keisha told News24.

“They run in the streets and shoot the people. They don’t care who they shoot. The last time [in 2014] they shot my friend’s daddy in his head. She cried at school every day.”

‘I just want to go to school’

A little boy said he would rather go to school than be stuck indoors for the entire day.

“I just want to play soccer with the neighbours but my grandma won’t even let me go to my friend across the road.

“I miss my friends. It’s not lekker [nice] being stuck in the house the whole day.”

He isn't even allowed to walk to the local church about a kilometre away where a holiday programme is being held, in case the gangsters start shooting again, he said.

He was, however, allowed out to buy a packet of tomatoes from the nearby street vendor round the corner.

“I must hurry back or I will get a hiding. Then I must go sit in front of the TV again and watch whatever is on. Only two of our channels work.”

Drastic measures

Community worker Sheila Domingo doesn’t blame parents for taking drastic measures.

“Look at the parks and the open fields – it’s deserted. It’s usually the busiest place during the holidays because people don’t have money to take their kids to fancy places,” she said.

“When you walk past people’s houses, you see the little faces peering out of the windows. They have to hide because when the skollies [gangsters] open fire, they don’t care who gets hurt. Adults, children and even senior citizens have been hit in the past.”

Manenberg is far from the vibrant, colourful neighbourhood it once was, Domingo said.

“With all the social ills and poverty in this community, this was always our home. Now it’s a place where you hide inside your home and pray that nobody kills you while you drink your tea.”

Read more on:    cape town  |  gang violence

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