Maverick Citizen

Seven-year-old sleeping boy wounded in gang crossfire on the Cape Flats 

By Vincent Cruywagen 1 June 2020
Caption
Photo: Residents in Manenberg are still living in backyard structures, say community activists from Proudly Manenberg. They are questioning if new developments in the area could benefit Manenberg as up to 70% of residents are unemployed. Photo: Suné Payne, 7 December 2018.

Fear grips residents of the notorious gang-ridden area of Manenberg following the wounding of three people in separate incidents, including a seven-year-old boy and 10-year-old girl. Petrified residents claim rival gangs are waging an all-out war.

The seven-year-old boy, Tofique Johnson, was hit by a stray bullet while he was sleeping with his parents and his sister in their Wendy house in Red River Walk just before midnight on Sunday, 31 May. 

The Johnson family lives in territory controlled by the Jesters gang. Just hours before Tofique was hit, a gun battle between the Americans and the Jesters erupted on the streets. A member of the Americans was shot in the leg, which led a retaliation by the Jesters 

Tofique’s father, Gershwin, who has no links to any of the gangs, recalled how bullets slammed into the family’s Wendy house.

“My eldest daughter was pushed off her bed and luckily she wasn’t injured. My wife, Rafieka, jumped out of the bed, rushed to Tofique and pulled him out of his bed. When she handed him to me, she shouted he was shot. I lifted up his sweater but saw no blood on him.”

Johnson said he then noticed a small hole in his son’s torso.

“There was only a little bit of blood on his bed. Our house was like a madhouse. My wife ran out and neighbours rushed him to the hospital,”  said Tofique’s distraught father.

Johnson said he was baffled as to why gangsters would target his home as he did not belong to a gang and was not involved in any criminality. According to Johnson, a police officer at the scene had told him that 24 shots were fired into the Wendy house.

The boy underwent an emergency operation at a City hospital. Johnson said his wife had informed him that doctors had been unable to remove the bullet as it had lodged in his son’s kidney. A hospital spokesperson told Maverick Citizen that Tofique was in a stable condition.

Police spokesperson Novela Potelwa confirmed the incident, adding that a 64-year-old man and a 10-year-old girl had also been shot and wounded in separate incidents. 

“No child should have to live in conditions where they’re not safe on the streets, at school or in their homes. Gangster terrorism is holding many communities hostage. We demand an end to it.” – Faiez Jacobs, ANC MP for Athlone.

The wave of gang violence in the area has evoked widespread condemnation from all sectors.

Community activist Roegchanda Pascoe, who was forced to flee the area after testifying against members of the Clever Kids in the Western Cape High Court, gave a chilling insight into the dynamics of gangsterism in Manenberg.

“Red River Walk is the headquarters of the Jesters gang. It is also one of the most dangerous roads in Manenberg and people living there are bound to be caught in the crossfire. A pavement opposite Red River Walk and Renoster Way is controlled by the Hard Livings and Americans gangs.”

There are also eight blocks of flats, or “courts”, about 800 metres from the road where the Clever Kids and Americans constantly battle for supremacy. 

“From what I heard, the Americans will be forming an alliance with the Fancy Boys and the Hard Livings are going to bed with the Jesters. This could result in the biggest gang war that Manenberg has ever seen,” Pascoe added.

The Hard Livings have been in turmoil since the murder of infamous gang boss, Rashied Staggie, who was gunned down outside his home in Salt River in April 2020. Residents said Staggie’s demise had also resulted in fighting for the top spot in the gang, and it is believed that rival gangs were exploiting this weakness within the ranks of the Hard Livings.

Faiez Jacobs, ANC MP for Athlone, condemned the shooting and the wounding of children.

“No child should have to live in conditions where they’re not safe on the streets, at school or in their homes. Gangster terrorism is holding many communities hostage. We demand an end to it.”

Jacobs called on the police to “clean up Manenberg” and other areas “terrorised by gangsters”.

Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz also condemned the shootings.

“I wish the young boy a speedy recovery. Violence has absolutely no place in our society. I call on anyone with information to immediately come forward and report it to their local SAPS station. We will, together with the City of Cape Town, deploy law enforcement advancement plan officers in gang-affected areas,” Fritz said.

Meanwhile, a number of SAPS units, local police station personnel and members of the Anti-Gang Unit have conducted raids in pursuit of those responsible for the shootings.

Potelwa explained that an operational plan informed by crime pattern analysis would identify hotspots in communities. These areas, she said, would see several operations and raids.

Police have also urged affected communities to report illegal activities, including the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition. Information can be given to the police on 08600 10111. DM

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