Kids caught in gang shooting crossfire

CapeTown - An eight-year-old boy has been left with a bullet lodged in his skull, while a teenager could be paralysed for life after a bullet struck his spine, both innocent bystanders hurt during a gang-related shooting in Parkwood, Cape Town.

Two other children were shot in the same incident, but were expected to make full and speedy recoveries.

Four people were shot in Parkwood while playing on the playgrounds in this area. Picture Leon Lestrade. Credit: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

Police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Andre Traut said only a 15-year-old boy was shot during the incident in Viljoen Walk at about 10pm on Friday. But the Weekend Argus, after visiting the scene, can confirm that four children were in fact hit by stray bullets during the shooting.

They are

Tauriq Titus, eight, Berenice Adams, 14, Cassiem Wilkinson, 15, and Chadwick Manuel, 16. They were all caught up in a stand-off between the Junky Funky Kids and Americans gangs.

Residents, who would not be identified because they feared a backlash from gangsters, said the gang members had suddenly appeared and started shooting at anything that moved – including children.

Tauriq was struck in the back of the head and the bullet remains lodged in his skull. Another bullet hit Cassiem in the spine, damaging his internal organs.

Chadwick was shot in the hand, while Berenice was shot in the buttocks. They are expected to make a full recovery.

Tauriq is conscious, although doctors, who called his survival “a miracle”, are doubtful they can remove the bullet from his skull because of its proximity to his brain. His grandmother, Glenda Engels, said Tauriq was playing soccer just metres from his home when he was shot.

“He was in surgery for two and a half hours. The doctors called his survival a miracle but I call it the mercy of God. When he woke up the first thing he asked was if his 14-year-old uncle Xavier was fine. The doctors don’t know if they can remove the bullet from his skull, but we hope things will change with time. I’m just glad Tauriq is still alive,” she said.

Cassiem’s mother, Mariam Wilkinson, said doctors had not been able to give her a complete update on her son’s condition.

“We spent most of the night in hospital. We were told there was some damage to his intestines but we don’t know how bad it is.

“Doctors told us to prepare for the possibility that he may be paralysed for life. We’re taking things one step at a time until we know more,” she said.

Chadwick was shot in the right hand and has already been released from hospital.

The 16-year-old told the Weekend Argus that the park was filled with children playing soccer and swinging on the jungle gym when he heard the first shots go off.

“I heard the first shot and then felt my hand shake with the second. I ducked around a corner for cover and saw blood pouring from my hand. I looked to the park and saw Cassiem fall as the bullet hit him. I later rode in the ambulance. I’m still struggling to recall exactly what happened, it was all so fast,” he said.

Berenice was shot in the buttocks and is expected to make a full recovery.

Her sister Shanice Adams said Berenice fled to her house after she was shot. “She didn’t even realise she was shot until we told her. They showed no remorse or conscience and shot at innocent children.”

Gang shootings have become an almost daily occurrence in Parkwood over the past year, according to residents, who say gangs are fighting for turf.

Engels said the area was slowly descending into a turf war. “Sometimes there’s a lull for a few days and then the shooting starts all over again.

“Our children aren’t even safe playing in front of their own homes.”

Community Safety MEC Dan Plato said he was shocked to learn of the shootings, and would ensure action was taken to arrest those responsible immediately. “The state of gang violence in the Western Cape is extremely worrying, especially when it’s news of children caught in the crossfire,” Plato said.

“ I will be dealing with the police to make sure those responsible must face the consequences.”

The MEC said he would meet the families of the victims today.

been able to give her a complete update on her son’s condition.

The MEC said he would meet the families of the victims on Sunday.

Sunday Argus