South Africa

Maverick Citizen: Ocean View

Cape Town’s killing fields: Communities united in sorrow and rage 

Cape Town’s killing fields: Communities united in sorrow and rage 
Emaan's grandfather Ronald Solomons (Right) plants a cross with the help of a resident. (Photo: Vincent Cruywagen)

The 60 crosses at the entrance to Ocean View in Cape Town are a stark reminder of the bloodshed caused by gang-related violence on the Peninsula. They also illustrate the profound call of the community for the daily carnage to stop.

The death of seven-year-old Emaan Solomons, struck by a stray bullet while playing outside her home in Ocean View on 27 February 2020, has brought together a disparate group of communities united in grief and rage.

This was evident as residents from Scarborough and Kommetjie attended a vigil held on Sunday, 1 March, in a park in Ocean View.

A good samaritan donated 60 white crosses to the families of victims killed in the violence that has gripped the area over the past 10 years to make visible those who all too often get lost after the headlines have faded.

Emaan’s grandfather Ronald Solomons (Photo: Vincent Cruywagen)

Emaan’s grandfather Ronald Solomons hammered a cross bearing his granddaughter’s name into the hard gravel surface while many who attended the memorial service shed tears.

The 60 crosses at the Ocean View entrance are a stark reminder of the bloodshed caused by gang-related violence across Cape Town. They also illustrate the profound call of the community for the carnage and killing of women and children to stop.

One of the 60 remembered was Rhonwyn Truters, 24, killed on August 9, 2010. Her son Jason was two years old when his mother was killed and at the weekend, with the support of his adoptive father, Cedric Cotton, he carried a cross honouring his mother.

Reez Pavel, brainchild of the Ocean View Peace Initiative which includes neighbouring communities. (Photo: Vincent Cruywagen)

Reez Pagel, 22, who launched the initiative, said she was endeavouring to turn a tragedy into an opportunity for activism and healing. Pagel, a peace activist who grew up in the area, said what happened to Emaan could have happened to anyone.

“It breaks my heart to see that I have to raise my kids in this community, but at the same time I don’t see a reason for me to go away from my community. This is where I was raised and I know that if I can bring a positive change, and if not, why not,” said Pagel.

She said the purpose of the initiative was to foster peace in the area and to solidify relationships with neighbouring communities.

“I think by starting something like this it wasn’t just for me and my family but for those who couldn’t speak for themselves. Children who cannot speak for themselves. I know this might not change much but I’m going to do as much as I can for my community.”

Remembering Emaan Solomons and 60 others killed in the past 10 years. (Photo: Vincent Cruywagen)

Emaan was killed when she was hit by a stray bullet following a shoot-out between rival gangs.

All she did “wrong” was play like any child should be able to, in front of her family home. Shortly after the murder, a vigilante group set alight at least four houses believed to belong to drug merchants.

Struggling to hold back his tears, Emaan’s granddad Ronald Solomons said: “I’m very happy with what I have witnessed taking place in our area. I’m glad her death has united residents. This is the start of much greater things that will take place in our community.

“Residents of Ocean View should now pray and work together in collaboration with the police and all other role-players to solve crime in our area.”

Residents added their hope that this peace initiative would restore the tranquility that once prevailed in Ocean View.

Community Policing Forum chairperson Kathy Cronje said one main gang was involved in a turf war with splinter groups.

She believes that if residents of Ocean View, Scarborough and Kommetjie pool resources, much more can be achieved in terms of combating crime and drugs, as Ocean View cannot fight this battle on its own.

“I’m hoping this is the start of much bigger things to take shape. Communities have tried everything and let’s hope this initiative has the desired effect.”

On Sunday, thousands of riders participating in the 42nd edition of the Cape Town Cycle Tour will see residents with banners calling for an end to gang violence and drugs in Ocean View, Scarborough and Kommetjie along the route. Cronje said they want the messages to be seen on television nationwide.

Meanwhile, two suspects, Eben Basson and Chivargo Fredericks, were arrested in connection with the murder and made a brief appearance in the Simon’s Town Magistrate’s Court on counts of murder and attempted murder. They are due to be back in court on Friday (March 6) for a bail application. MC

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