Port Elizabeth – A 30-year-old man candidly recalled the events to the Port Elizabeth High Court on Thursday, that led to a two-year-old toddler, in a nappy, being senselessly shot dead in the streets of Barcelona during a gang cross fire.
Little Caydene Ruiters was in front of a house with her mother, sister and four men in Barcelona when a stray bullet struck her through the chest.
According to the State, the two men, armed with firearms, arrived on foot and randomly fired numerous shots at the group of people who dispersed frantically in different directions.
The men charged with the toddler’s murder are apparently leaders in a notorious gang ‘Sestien Honde’ and have pleaded not guilty to 11 charges which include murder, attempted murder and unlawful possession of firearm and ammunition.
The trial involving Marcus Malgas, 25 and Gregory Van Staden, 30, got underway earlier this week.
Juwayne Campher, 30, who was outside the house at the time of the shooting in December last year, testified as a State witness on Thursday and recalled chilling details of continuous gang wars in the Northern Areas which appear to be the ‘norm’.
Campher explained how he grew up and went to school with known gangsters and was therefore able to identify Malgas and Van Staden as leaders from the ‘Sestien Honde’ gang.
State Advocate Jason Thysse asked Campher to explain the gang dynamics and the events that led up to the child’s death.
“I was speaking to Ricardo about sport, Puffy [Eon Daries] came and he started to speak about a shooting that took place a weekend before - a Sestien Honde shooting,” said Campher.
He told the court how he noticed Malgas and Van Staden walking towards the groups direction and shots started to go off.
Thysse asked: “Do you know why there was a shooting?”
Campher responded: “It’s because Puffy was standing there, and Puffy is from a rival gang.”
He said that the Sestien Honde and Gazas gangs were known to be “arch rivals”.
Campher said that he had heard “five to 10 shots” going off and ran for cover inside Ricardo’s house while the rest of the group dispersed in different directions.
He said: “Everything was ‘deurmekaar’ [chaotic] I don’t know which direction everyone ran off in”.
Following the shooting Campher said he saw Ricardo carrying the injured toddler in his arms. The little girl was taken to Livingstone hospital but was declared dead shortly after her arrival.
Police earlier said that Malgas was linked to two other shooting incidents in Gelvandale, with the charges relating to murder and attempted murder.
Malgas who was seen heavily chained in the dock constantly stared at reporters at any given opportunity.
Self confessed gangster, Eon Daries from the Gazas gang also testified on Thursday and told the court with a smile that he knew both Malgas and Van Staden.
Daries said that the friends were drinking Black Label beer and talking when someone warned of two men approaching the group.
“I saw Marcus and Gregory, they both had guns and started to shoot,” said Daries.
The trial continues.