Cape Town - Bullets interrupted the innocent games of two young children in a Mitchells Plain park on Monday, killing six-year-old Hope van der Merwe and wounding five-year-old Jaden Dass.
An 18-year-old man was also hit and is recovering in hospital.
Hope, in Grade R at West End Primary School in New Woodlands, was hit in the head and died instantly.
Jaden was hit in the leg. He is recovering at home.
Police declined to discuss the cause of the shooting, but a spokesman for the community policing forum in Lentegeur suspected it was gang-related.
It is speculated the 18-year-old might have been the target.
Neither the Van der Merwe family nor the teenager’s family would speak to the media.
Joan Mentoor, 55, said that she had just left her grandson, Jaden, in the park in Alexis Preller Street with his friend, Hope, when she heard four gunshots.
“I turned around and ran back to the park.
“When I got there someone was crying very loudly next to the body of a little girl.
“I was so emotional that I also started crying. Then I heard Jaden calling me and when I looked around I saw that he had blood all over his leg. I got so hysterical that I took him and started heading towards my house.”
Mentoor said at this moment she heard more gunshots, and people started running for cover. She got one of her sons to carry Jaden home.
When the Cape Argus visited the house, Jaden was lying on the couch with a bandage around his leg.
His mother, Hestrolita Dass, 35, said she had rushed from work when she heard about the shooting and she was glad that her son was not seriously hurt.
She said the bullet had grazed Jaden’s leg. Her son was too traumatised to speak about the shooting.
“He is just himself but he doesn’t want to speak about what happened,” she said.
The shooting incident happened shortly after 2pm and residents said they saw gunman run away.
Basil Coetzee, chairman of the Community Policing Forum in Lentegeur, said there was speculation the incident might be gang-related but it was not clear which gangs were fighting for turf in the area.
New Woodlands lies next to a railway line. Different gangs were based on either side of the railway line and would shoot at each other, said Coetzee.
They needed a wall to separate the railway from the houses.
“It used to be quiet here, but the gang shootings started this year. A man was shot dead at the beginning of the year not too far from here.”
Coetzee said parents needed to come to terms with the fact their children, some of whom are still in high school, are involved in gangs.
“People are in denial. Parents need to take responsibility for their kids.
“Once there is a gangster in the street, it draws more gangsters. Look at what happened here today – it could have been different, we could have lost two children here today.”
He said a memorial service was planned for Hope at Westend Primary on Wednesday.
Police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Andrè Traut confirmed the incident and said that the suspect, who fled the scene, was yet to be arrested.
The gunman’s motive is unknown.