'I saw his face covered in blood': Mom's anguish after son killed in gang violence in Mitchells Plain

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Police officers attend to a crime scene in Mitchells Plain.
Police officers attend to a crime scene in Mitchells Plain.
Gallo Images / Brenton Geach
  • Nine people have been shot in multiple shootings in Tafelsig since Sunday.
  • Police say all the incidents are gang related.
  • A mom of one of the victims described identifying her son's body in a mortuary through a window due to Covid-19 restrictions as devastating. 

Marlene Van Willingh had the gruesome task of identifying her son's body at a Cape Town mortuary on Wednesday.

Her son, Xavier, was one of nine people gunned down within two days in gang-related shootings in Tafelsig, Mitchells Plain.

On Tuesday morning, Marlene heard shots being fired. When she rushed outside, she found her son in his father's parked car.

He had fallen asleep after smoking in the car earlier, she said, adding she did not allow smoking in the house.

"At first, I couldn't see him because it was very dark, but I somehow saw the blood which immediately sent shivers down my spine. When I moved closer to the car, I saw my beautiful son's face covered in blood in the corner of the back seat," she told News24.

Xavier, 21, was rushed by ambulance to a local hospital.

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"[For] several hours, my boy was fighting for his life and I couldn't be near him to tell him that I'm right there with him."

Marlene was shattered when she received the call informing her of her son's death. She said:

I just closed my eyes and took it all in. I cannot believe he's no longer with us, it's heartbreaking.

Xavier recently celebrated his 21st birthday and his family was planning a joint celebration of this milestone and his parents' wedding anniversary.

"But now, everything has come to a standstill. How can we go on celebrating when my son is dead?" she asked. 

"Identifying your child's lifeless body through a window is something I wish no parents [should] go through. I couldn't touch him or kiss his cheek."

Police spokesperson Captain FC van Wyk said officers responded to a shooting incident in Huguenot Street, where they found a white Opel Astra with its back window shattered.

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"Inside the vehicle was a 21-year male. The victim had sustained a gunshot wound to his face. The victim was taken to hospital for medical treatment," added Van Wyk.

Police initially investigated a case of attempted murder. The motive was gang-related, he said. No one has been arrested.

Meanwhile, an 18-year-old has been taken in for questioning after a 44-year-old man was shot in Real Madrid Street, five minutes before Xavier was gunned down.

Xavier was shot in the face by an alleged gang member.
Supplied Supplied

"Allegedly, the victim was at home when he heard someone banging on the door. When he approached the door, he heard gunshots being fired through the door. He was injured in both legs,” Van Wyk said.


A case of attempted murder was opened for investigation.

That same day, a 30-year-old man was shot while walking near Jonkershoek Street at 04:30.

He had been approached by four men who opened fire on him, Van Wyk added. "He sustained multiple gunshot wounds to his body."

An attempted murder docket was opened for investigation.

Tuesday's incidents come only two days after a bloody Sunday in Tafelsig, which saw six people become casualties of gun violence.

A 38-year-old man was found dead inside a toilet in Gideonskop Street on Sunday morning.

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Van Wyk said when police arrived at the scene, they found the man's body with gunshot wounds to his neck and chest.

"No persons have been arrested. The motive for the attack is gang related and police are investigating a case of murder."

Five youngsters, aged between 13 and 22, were injured early that morning in a seperate shooting in Plattekloof Street.

"According to reports received, the injured persons were at a matric ball party where they were standing in the street busy gambling and smoking," Van Wyk said.


"A white car, with no other details, then came driving down the road. One of the occupants in the car started shooting at them and everyone ran in different directions. The car with the suspects drove away. The suspects are yet to be arrested."

All the victims were taken to a nearby hospital for medical treatment.

Mitchells Plain Community Police Forum (CPF) chairperson Norman Jantjies said he was saddened by the ongoing shootings in the area.

"The loss of lives is never easy. Residents are living in fear because of these gangs. In most areas, we don't have streetlights and this becomes a problem at night as it gives way for criminal activities."

According to Jantjies, the CPF and neighbourhood watch were looking to introduce a "crime prevention league" that offered an alternative to gangs and the associated violence, especially during the festive season.

"We are trying to bring down the numbers in crime-ridden areas and if we can do so by keeping youngsters involved in sporting activity, then that is what we need to do. We cannot keep losing [them] to these gangs," he added.  

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