Shot Cape Town girl could be paralysed after gunmen opened fire on play park

2017-01-26 15:26
Ashline Telmarks, 5, has been shot in the back in Hanover Park, Cape Town. (Supplied)

Ashline Telmarks, 5, has been shot in the back in Hanover Park, Cape Town. (Supplied)

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Cape Town - Ashline Telmarks, 5, knows the drill - when playing outside and shots are fired, run to the nearest open door. But her little legs didn't make it into a neighbour's house on Tuesday evening when bullets flew into Algoa Court, Hanover Park, and one hit her in the back, exiting through her abdomen.

Her mother Merlithe told News24 on Thursday that it now remains to be seen if her daughter will ever walk again.

Her spine, kidney and lung were damaged by the single bullet which struck her as she fled the nearby park before sunset on Tuesday.

READ: 5-year-old girl shot in Cape Town gang warfare

According to witnesses, four men entered the building's courtyard and opened fire, randomly shooting in the vicinity.

The gunmen, alleged to be members of the Ghetto Kids gang, then fled on foot.

Ashline's aunt, Charlotte Louw, said she rushed outside when she heard gunshots to find the little girl.

'She hadn't felt a thing'

"I found her next to a set of stairs. She had tried to make her way up to one of the flats but her legs gave in. I tried to lift her to her feet and get her indoors but when I put my hands around her body, I felt the bullet wound. That's when we realised, she had been shot," Louw said.

"She didn't cry. She hadn't felt a thing."

Merlithe, 23, had been on her way home from visiting her mother, who lived nearby.

READ: 'I want them to pay for taking my entire world away' - mom of baby killed in crossfire

When she got home, neighbours had already rushed Ashline to Heideveld Emergency Centre, where an ambulance transferred her to the Red Cross Children's Hospital.

She underwent her first operation on Wednesday, Merlithe said.

Ashline had also suffered severe blood loss and was under sedation.

"But she knows now what happened. She told the doctors she had been shot," her mother said.

She currently has no feeling in her legs and doctors have told Merlithe that they don't know if she will walk again.

"But I am happy that she is alive," the relieved mother of two said from hospital.

‘Our lives aren't worth much’

Police spokesperson Captain FC van Wyk on Thursday said there were no new developments in the case.

No arrests have been made.

Children living in gang-ridden communities like Hanover Park see things no one should see in their lifetime, community worker Tema Augus told News24.

"The stuff that happens in the violent e.tv movies is what happens in our streets. Gangsters fight over drugs and turf and shoot anyone in their way, whether it's a mother, father or child. It's like our lives aren't worth much here," she said shaking her head.

"We try to show our youngsters there are alternatives for them other than gangsterism and drugs. But when you have to choose between going to bed hungry and dropping a suspicious parcel for R100, the choice is a no-brainer. That's where it usually starts - with a hungry tummy and a feeling of hopelessness."

Augus said most people have become so desensitised and apathetic that instead of running away from the gunshots, people run toward them to see "the action" and escape from their own sometimes "pitiful" lives.

"But the sad thing is that even if they see who it is, your survival instinct tells you not to talk. Because when the cops retreat and the blue lights fade, we are the people who face danger in our houses with the thin walls.

"In Hanover Park, we all have emotional scars. But some of us - even our children - have physical ones too. Nobody is safe."

Read more on:    cape town  |  crime
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