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Elsies River residents slam ‘trigger happy’ police after death of girl (16) during clashes over arrest

Elsies River residents slam ‘trigger happy’ police after death of girl (16) during clashes over arrest
Althea Adams died on Sunday after she was struck by a bullet while police were dispersing a crowd. (Photo: Supplied)

Althea Adams was killed when Elsies River residents attacked police officers who were arresting an alleged drug dealer.

Police are monitoring Elsies River in Cape Town’s northern suburbs where the situation is volatile following the death of a 16-year-old girl on Sunday, 17 March 2024.

Acting on a tip-off, the police pounced on a residence in Elsies River, discovered drugs and ammunition, and wanted to arrest the owner, resulting in the death of 16-year-old girl Althea Adams.

Police claim they used A stun grenade and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd but residents say it was live ammunition that killed Althea. 

According to Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) spokesperson Phaladi Shuping, as the police arrested a suspect, a group of residents allegedly attacked the police, who threw a stun grenade and fired rubber bullets in an attempt to disperse the crowd.

“Four people were injured and taken to hospital. One person, aged 16, unfortunately passed away. The incident was reported to Ipid and investigators have started with the investigations.” 

Residents told Daily Maverick that the suspect was an elderly relative of the suspected owner of the drugs and ammunition, which was why they were against the arrest. 

Not the first time

The local community policing forum confirmed that this was not the first time police had come under attack in the area while arresting a suspect. 

There have been seven murders in Elsies River since the start of March owing to gun and gang violence. The area is home to notorious gangsters including from the 28s and 26s. Turf wars are common and innocent people are often caught in the middle. 

Over the years residents have protested against gang shootings, calling for peace in the area, but the shootings continue. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Confession rumours swirl as fourth suspect arrested in Joshlin Smith disappearance case 

In August 2023, in Ravensmead, which is 4km from Elsies River, alleged 28s gangsters ambushed a police station and shot at two officers in a bid to access alcohol that had been confiscated by the police earlier. 

On Monday, more than 150 residents held a protest, burning rubble and tyres on the road and calling for justice for the teenager. They also stressed that they were not against the arrest of drug dealers, but insisted arrests must be made in a dignified manner. 

On Tuesday, protests flared up slightly, with law enforcement agencies keeping a watchful eye. 

One resident, Ivan Jansen, said: “We should be treated like human beings. We are all against drug dens but the police must not be trigger happy and shoot at us like we are animals when we raise issues. Loss of life should be avoided at all times, especially by authorities.” 

Speaking for the family, Ushan Adams said Althea was standing metres from the incident when a bullet caught her. 

“We did not notice she was hurt as she ran to her aunt’s house where we found her lying in the sitting room.” 

Althea had been wounded in the chest: “It is difficult to describe it but her mouth changed colour.

“The police must assist us with the burial because we do not have money for that.” 

Adams said the police must take responsibility for the death because they were the only ones firing guns in the area. 

Elsies River community policing forum spokesperson Imraahn Mukaddam said it is also possible that someone fired the bullet that hit Althea from elsewhere. “But the post mortem will confirm all that.

“Ipid confiscated all the guns that the police had on the day and we enrolled the Human Rights Commission as well, so they will be watching a brief of the post mortem of the young girl as well as the Ipid investigation.” 

Mukaddam said the family is poor and cannot afford to bury their child. “The family will struggle with the burial and we are appealing for assistance to bury the child.” 

He called for calm and said residents should allow the investigation to go on to determine how the teenager was killed. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Mike Lawrie says:

    When a group residents attack the police who are making an arrest, those residents get what is coming to them, and I say full marks to the police. Attack the police and you will and should get very badly hurt indeed.

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