Award -winning Cape Times photographer BRENTON GEACH tells the story of one life, Ricardo Fritz, thorugh this picture series. Fritz, a regular abuser of hard drugs, was gunned down last week.

This series documents his life over several years, while also highlighting the lives he left behind.

HE was born in Ocean View and died there. On Wednesday night Ricardo Fritz – Cardie to his friends – was sitting around a fire with a couple of mates on a street corner warming themselves in the icy Cape winter’s night.

A car drove by, bullets were fired from the vehicle, and Cardie died. He was 37.

No one knows who fired the shots, and many think Cardie was not the intended target. He died before his girlfriend, Esmarelda James, could get to him. He leaves her and their three children, Ashley, 12, Ashwin, 8 and one-year-old Ashton.

Researchers say the sale of hard drugs in low-income areas is both a symptom of communities in decline, and a cause. Some escape it, others are drawn in. Cardie was not one of those who escaped.

As a child he was in and out of reformatory school for petty crimes, and when he was older, he was in and out of jail, for serious crimes like robbery.

He used mandrax and tik freely. In jail he became a member of the notorious 28s prison gang. But there was something in Cardie that tried to fight back. Although he socialised with gangsters, outside of jail he never joined a gang. Although he was often high on tik, he always tried to put food on the table for his family.

Then earlier this year, things began to change for Cardie. Perhaps it was his age that made him try harder, or perhaps it was just a lucky break, but he got a job on a local construction site – the first job he had ever had.

He was proud. Not quite establishment yet, but he had a toe on the ladder to claw himself out of a downward spiral that sucks in so many of those living in the Ocean Views of the world.

Perhaps no one will ever know the motive of Cardie’s killer. The hard fact is that although he had started to turn his life around, the place he was in, physically and socially, carried a high risk of dying young. Cardie’s short life ended with a bullet from an unseen gunman in a drive-by shooting.