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Turf wars: Seven gunned down in Cape Town gang violence in one week

Turf wars: Seven gunned down in Cape Town gang violence in one week
One of four men who were shot execution style by unknown gunmen in Lost City in Mitchells Plain on Saturday. (Photo: Supplied)

Fears are mounting that a gang turf war raging in parts of Mitchells Plain could turn the suburb’s streets into rivers of blood. Residents say the area is awash with drugs.

On Saturday afternoon, armed men terrorised the community in Maureen Way, Lost City, in Tafelsig. Five gunmen went on a shooting spree, killing four men between the ages of 30 and 64. The victims were shot at close range, suggesting that they were deliberately targeted.

The victims were sitting in front of their homes when they were taken by surprise by the gunmen in what seemed to be a coordinated attack. They were all shot in the head and the upper body. A fifth victim survived.

The shooting came days after 13-year-old Tamir Mitchells, a Grade 8 pupil at Beacon Hill High, and Morgan Munnik (18), a matriculant at Aloe High School, were killed in an apparent drive-by shooting in Cadillac Street, Beacon Valley, on Thursday night. 

In a separate incident on Friday, a 14-year-old girl was killed outside her home in Lotus River, caught in the crossfire of a gang shooting.

Following the bloody weekend, author and poet Basil Coetzee penned a poem titled, “Can’t we stop this war?”. He wrote, “I see our children dying and the mother crying, I hear the bullets flying, commissioners lying.

“Children are crying on the floor, death is waiting at the door, I hear cries of no more… can’t we stop this bloody war?”

The poem, posted on social media, elicited an overwhelming response, including one from Anti-Gang Unit head, Major-General Andre Lincoln.

Lincoln wrote: “Yes my Brother we can stop the war. We will see no more children dying and mothers crying and bullets flying when the mothers start telling us where the guns and bullets are.

“We can stop the war and see no more children dying and mothers crying and bullets flying when communities tell us who is corrupt among us. 

“Yes we can stop the war only when the good men who are left break the silence.”

Scores of state witnesses have over the years been killed by gang members they were due to testify against. These murders go back as far as 2011 when at least 12 people, including six state witnesses, four gang members and two others linked to the case of alleged 28s gang boss George “Geweld” Thomas, were murdered.

In a more recent incident, 39-year-old Janine Manuel, known locally as Meisa, was shot and killed by alleged members of the Americans gang in Shelly Court, Atlantis, on 25 January. She was one the witnesses to the brutal slaying of 28s gang member Faakhir Moosa on 30 June 2016.

Turning state witness, especially against hardened criminals, is often tantamount to signing your own death warrant. Activist Roegchanda Pascoe is acutely aware of this. She testified in the Western Cape High Court in 2019 against the Clever Kids gang leader Mohamed Faeez Hendricks, who killed Angelo Davids in Manenberg on 20 July 2016. 

Her testimony secured a successful prosecution and a 25-year jail term meted out to Davids in October 2019. But this came with a heavy price. There is a hit out on Pascoe and she cannot move back to Manenberg.

Norman Jantjies, chairperson of the Mitchells Plain Community Policing Forum, said the youth in Mitchells Plain don’t have other alternatives and gangsterism has become attractive to them. (Photo: Supplied)

Commenting on the spate of murders in Mitchells Plain, Norman Jantjies, chairperson of the Mitchells Plain Policing Forum said they were concerned about the upsurge in violence.

“We feel that gangsterism is among us and we cannot focus on law enforcement alone. Gangsterism is not a police problem alone. Gangsterism is very attractive to the youth who don’t have a lot of alternatives,” he said.

Jantjies has a wealth of experience from working for the National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders (Nicro), which he tries to apply in the fight against gangsterism and drugs.

On what might be behind the recent upsurge in gang violence Jantjies said, “There are a lot of theories and one of the dominant ones is that the 28s are busy expanding their territory. It is all about controlling the drug trade by force to keep out the opposition.

“Now we have a situation where the  smaller groups stand up against the 28s. The situation remains very volatile,” he added.

Following the Mitchells Plain shootings, Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz undertook to expedite the rollout of additional law enforcement and violence prevention efforts through the establishment of area bases teams in communities most affected by violent crime.

“I have been informed that SAPS in the Western Cape are taking a multi-disciplinary approach to clamping down on those involved and are utilising resources from the anti-gang unit.”

Meanwhile, the City of Cape Town’s MEC for Safety and Security, JP Smith, has requested that officers from the Law Enforcement Advancement Plan be temporarily redeployed to each of the five gang hotspots in Mitchells Plain.

“I have consulted with MEC Fritz and City law enforcement management. The deployment will be reviewed in due course,” Smith said.

Police spokesperson Colonel Andre Traut said the Mitchells Plain killers were still at large. DM/MC

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  • Magali von Blottnitz says:

    Thank you Vincent Cruywagen for this bird’s eye view of where we are with this. Nice to read Norman Jantjies’ analysis. No doubt that this matter is too complex and multi-layered to be resolved by a “single-response” approach… but we have to mobilise the best thinking we have to make “stopping this war” a national priority.

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