CCTV reveals moments before Hope died

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Copy of ca p4 Dashley van der Merwe done

CAPE ARGUS

Dashley van der Merwe, Hopes cousin and adoptive mother, said the little girl was friendly and loving to everyone. Photo: David Ritchie

Cape Town - Gangs confront each other every day on our city’s streets – but a clash captured on CCTV this week reveals the moments that led to the death of a 6-year-old girl called Hope.

The footage obtained by the Cape Argus begins with teenagers confronting a man, believed to be from a rival gang, walking down a street in New Woodlands, Mitchells Plain. They demand his cellphone. There’s a scuffle. They snatch the cellphone.

A few metres away, Hope van der Merwe and her five-year-old friend, Jaden Dass, are playing.

The man wants his cellphone back. He walks after the perpetrators, but two of them pull out knives. One of the assailants lifts his fist and plunges his knife into the man’s shoulder and the men disperse.

It doesn’t take long for back-up to arrive to assist the man who’s lost his phone. The footage shows three men chasing the muggers. A man in sunglasses who is leading the pursuit has a gun. They run towards the park and disappear from the frame.

Four shots are fired.

Copy of CA p01 Hope NEW DONE

Hope van der Merwe was shot outside her house in New Woodlands. Photo: David Ritchie

CAPE ARGUS

Hope is hit in the head. She dies instantly. A bullet grazes Jaden’s right leg and he falls.

CCTV footage shows the gunman fleeing.

On Monday, Jaden’s grandmother Joan Mentoor, 55, heard the shots and ran back to where the kids had been playing. She said “someone was crying very loudly next to the body of a little girl”. This upset Mentoor so much she started crying, not realising her own grandson had also been hit.

“Then I heard Jaden calling me and when I looked around I saw that he had blood all over his leg.”

She picked the boy up, but as she started running there were further gunshots.

Residents said the men captured on camera were from the small New Woodlands community and were well known to the neighbours. Once childhood friends, the group joined different Mitchells Plain gangs – the Fancy Boys and the Junior Mafia. They have been at war since April, allegedly over a drug-dealing turf dispute.

On Monday, the war claimed its youngest casualty, Hope, who was in Grade R at West End Primary School.

Hope’s family have erected a little shrine to their lost child in their lounge. Candles and things Hope loved – her first baby blanket, a teddy bear and a “thank you award” from her teacher – surround a photo of the little girl at her Grade R “graduation”.

“She was a strong girl,” said Dashley van der Merwe, Hope’s cousin and adoptive mother.

“She was always willing to help and was friendly and loving to everyone around her.

“Our hearts are broken.”

A 23-year-old man has been arrested and charged with murder and attempted murder.

A woman who lives near where Hope and Jaden were shot said New Woodlands was once the most peaceful neighbourhood in the area.

“Now it is dangerous and we don’t go outside any more. Even last night, after this terrible and senseless death, there was shooting this way and that. These boys need to be taken in, but their parents are protecting them and not giving them up to the police like they should.”

Asa Daniels, 68, the grandmother of the man who was stabbed, said the group attacked her grandson and stabbed him again a few hours after the shooting.

“And they smashed all the windows of my house. This stress will be the end of me. What I don’t understand is that all these kids were such good friends when they were young boys.”

Basil Coetzee, of the Lentegeur Community Policing Forum (CPF), said tit-for-tat shooting was something being experienced across Mitchells Plain and that it was up to community structures, sich as the CPF and neighbourhood watches, to organise (themselves) and to stop the violence.

“People have to report crimes so that the police can know where to deploy resources,” he said.

daneel.knoetze@inl.co.za

Cape Argus


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