South Africa

CAPE TOWN KILLINGS

Traumatised Vrygrond residents turn to God after nine killed in battle between gangsters and taxi drivers

Traumatised Vrygrond residents turn to God after nine killed in battle between gangsters and taxi drivers
Grieving father Malan Nondana lost his 18-year-old son, Lutho, during three days of violence in Vrygrond. (Photo: Velani Ludidi)

Residents are traumatised and families are in mourning in the aftermath of a raging battle between taxi drivers and the notorious Junky Funky Kids over the weekend. Among those who died is matric pupil Lutho Nondana, who was working as a minibus taxi ‘gaatjie’.

Four alleged gang members, three minibus taxi operators, a teacher and an 18-year-old matric pupil were killed during a bloody weekend in Vrygrond, between Seawinds and Capricorn near the False Bay coastline east of Cape Town. Two teenagers were injured.

Police spokesperson Captain FC van Wyk confirmed seven deaths but community leaders and police sources said a total of nine died over three days in the Vrygrond, in the southern suburbs. 

On Friday, 30 September, at about 10pm, Muizenberg police responded to a shooting on Neville Riley Road in Vrygrond and discovered the bodies of two men aged 34 and 30. Both had multiple gunshot wounds and were “known members of a gang grouping”, said Van Wyk.

The pair were part of the notorious Junky Funky Kids (JFK). 

Daily Maverick reported in April that JFK member Fareez “Mamokkie” Smith admitted involvement in two counts relating to the murder of Anti-Gang Unit detective Lieutenant-Colonel Charl Kinnear, and illegal possession of an explosive device.

Van Wyk said that the following day, at about 6.30am, a 30-year-old driver was found murdered in a minibus taxi on Drury Road, Vrygrond. 

Killings continue

Police were called to action again on the same day, at about 5pm after a 28-year-old man was shot dead on Apple Road. He had “multiple gunshot wounds”, said Van Wyk.

Minutes later, on the same street, the body of another JFK member was found with multiple gunshot wounds. Police said the shooting was possibly linked to the Apple Road incident. 

 

Taxi rank attacked

Then on Sunday, at about 3.45pm, JFK members attacked the Vrygrond taxi rank on Berg Road. Police say two men were killed and a 15-year-old boy and 14-year-old girl were wounded. They were treated at a local medical facility. 

Police have initiated a 72-hour activation plan for the arrest of the suspects.

Matric learner killed

Matriculant Lutho Nondana (18) was shot in the head several times while standing at the gate at home. 

His distraught father, Malan Nondana (58), said his son was a touter (taxi guard or attendant) known as a gaatjie in Cape Town slang Afrikaaps. 

“He had nothing to do with what is happening here,” he said. 

“I was trying to remove him from possible drug addiction by asking his cousin, who is a (minibus) taxi driver, to take him in as a touter. On weekdays he was at school and only went to the taxi rank on weekends.”

Read more in Daily Maverick: “Taxi ‘mafia’ blamed for deadly attacks on long-distance buses, police urged to act  

Nondana said his son was targeted because he was seen at the rank. The cousin he worked for had left the area because he feared for his life. 

Vrygrond is a poor area and drugs are easily found in the streets. 


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Daily Maverick published a Ground Level Report on the area before the 2021 local government elections and found the township in a shabby state.

There is no sign on the turn off in Prince George Drive, near Capricorn, Cape Town, showing the name of Vrygrond which is just behind Capricorn (Photo: Vincent Cruywagen)

Some people said the tension between the drivers and JFK might be related to drug turf owing to the complex relationship between drugs, taxis and gangs. 

Others said it was linked to extortion, but South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) Western Cape spokesperson and Cape Organisation for the Democratic Taxi Association (Codeta) Vrygrond chairperson Makhosandile Tumana said they have not been approached by the JFK to pay extortion charges. 

“Our information is that two people were shot and our drivers came under fire after that shooting of two people. We would have disagreements with them (JFK) but those would be resolved with no conflict.”

He said they are trying to speak to the leader of JFK to negotiate  a ceasefire. This might be a challenge because the leader’s right-hand man was reportedly one of those murdered. 

Archive Photo, October, 2021:  A desperate mother in the impoverished community of Vrygrond searches through refuse. (Photo: Vincent Cruywagen)

Seeking divine intervention

Community leader Michael Khumalo said the shootings have traumatised residents. A prayer session had been organised in which they would ask for divine intervention. 

Vrygrond community leader Michael Khumalo said the shootings have traumatised residents. (Photo: Velani Ludidi)

“No matter how many police are called to monitor the situation, it will not really help. A conversation between the two parties needs to happen and an amicable solution reached.”

Read more in Daily Maverick: “Taxi drivers run riot, torch streets of Hout Bay over bus routes

Unlike most Cape Town areas, Vrygrond does not have a neighbourhood watch. Khumalo said this was due to the application process required to be recognised by the municipality in order to qualify for equipment such as bicycles, torches and reflectors. 

“Also, people do not consider volunteering due to the bad economic situation in the area. People are unemployed and would rather spend their time looking for something to eat than looking after their community.” DM

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