Lavender Hill, Cape Town, on edge after killing of gang leader and his son

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A prominent gang leader, Cheslin Nelson and his son, were shot dead on Friday night.
A prominent gang leader, Cheslin Nelson and his son, were shot dead on Friday night.
André Damons
  • Lavender Hill residents say they are living in fear after a prominent gang leader, Cheslin Nelson and his son, were shot dead on Friday night.
  • The Community Policing Forum (CPF) said "the community is tense" and fears a retaliation of gang shootings will erupt soon.
  • The gangs are fighting over drugs, territory, and leadership in the area. 

Lavender Hill, Cape Town, residents say the killing of a gang leader and his 11-year-old son might lead to an outbreak of gang violence. 

On Friday, a 42-year-old Fast Gun gang leader, Cheslin Nelson, was shot dead, alongside his 11-year-old son in their home in Shepherd Road. 

Police spokesperson Captain FC van Wyk said another man was injured in the attack. 

Community activist Howard Soetwater said gang violence in the area is getting out of control, and he fears that retaliation from rival gangs in the area will, "... erupt soon. 

"We are scared. The killing of the leader of the Fast Gun gang has brought immense fear among us as residents because we don't know when the retaliation shooting will begin. The community is unstable and quite frightened about these ongoing killings. We need urgent intervention by police and government because as long as there are gangs around, the senseless killings will continue," Soetwater said. 

Soetwater said Nelson was the gang's leader for many years and that there have always been, "... hits put out for him. 

ALSO READ | Community shattered as second teen shot in gang crossfire in Cape Town

"These gangs fight over territory, leadership, and drugs, and it's sad because when they are fighting, innocent people are caught in the crossfire. We have had several marches to the Steenberg police station to hear what proposals they are putting in place to curb the crime in the area, but we have still not seen anything," said Soetwater. 

He said in his 40 years as a community activist, he has seen gang violence on the Cape Flats worsen every year. 

"We live in areas that are filled with gangsters, police patrol now and again, but nothing gets done about the actual problem of these killings. These rival gangs have been trying to kill Cheslin numerous times, and they finally succeeded but at what cost? We are already accustomed to knowing that when a popular gang leader is killed, a war is going to happen, and blood will be shed," Soetwater said.

Steenberg community policing forum (CPF) chairperson Gavin Walbrugh said they are, "... very disturbed and saddened", by the murder. Walbrugh said the community was worried about a possible flare-up of violence. 

He said:

The community is tense as the threat of retaliation is real, especially if an alleged high-profile person is killed, so we are depending on the SAPS Intelligence to counter this threat. Community safety is key.

Walbrugh said it was easy to blame the police for not doing their jobs to protect people, but communities also had a responsibility to offer them tip-offs on where the drugs, firearms, and ammunition were being kept. 

"The community must become partners to the law enforcement agencies to stand together to prevent crime in all fashions, initiate the process of establishing more neighbourhood watches, street committees, block committees, activists against gangsterism, and always supporting the government organisations... We must all work together to combat these senseless killings," Walbrugh added. 

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