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Khayelitsha in the grip of terror

Residents of Enkanini informal settlement in Khayelitsha marked Human Rights Day in mourning after six people, mostly youth, were shot dead on Sunday. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Residents of Enkanini informal settlement in Khayelitsha marked Human Rights Day in mourning after six people, mostly youth, were shot dead on Sunday. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Mar 22, 2022

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CAPE TOWN - Residents of Enkanini informal settlement in Khayelitsha marked Human Rights Day in mourning after six people, mostly youth, were shot dead in a brazen attack that has left them reeling in shock.

The attack on Sunday afternoon came just days after Police Minister Bheki Cele had announced the deployment of more than 200 officers from Mpumalanga to help fight crime in the province after five people were shot dead in Endlovini informal settlement, also in Khayelitsha, less than 5km from where Sunday’s attack took place.

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Despite Cele’s announcement, at least 12 people have been killed in mass shootings around Cape Town at the weekend.

Two were in Gugulethu at NY102 on Sunday, while a man was shot and killed when answering a knock at the front door of his home at Phola Park in Strand on Saturday.

On Friday in Nomzamo, Strand, suspects fired shots at three people who were sitting in the house. One person was reported dead on the scene while two others died at the hospital.

In the latest Khayelitsha incident, police said three unknown gunmen fired shots randomly at the victims in Lindela Road.

Police found the bodies of two women and four men (between) the ages of 22 and 27 strewn across two scenes that are 200 metres apart. A sixth person died in hospital.

Speaking to the Cape Times on Monday, the owner of the house where the shooting took place said their family lived in fear after the incident.

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“My children did not want to sleep at the house, I had to ask for a place from my (family) so that they can sleep, they were paranoid and did not want to come near my house.

“They (deceased) were drinking and while I was with my neighbour I heard gunshots. I was so shocked I just threw myself on the ground,” the resident said.

The motive behind the latest attack remains unclear.

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Visiting the scene on Monday, provincial Police Commissioner Thembisile Patekile said: “There were nine people who were sitting outside the house by the bridge on chairs. Three unknown suspects came in and shot them, six were declared deceased while two managed to escape the scene and one was taken to hospital for medical treatment.

“It happened in the same Harare police station area where a week ago we had to attend a scene of five people who were shot and killed.

“What we are not getting from the community is the assistance to find out who these suspects are. We are trying to piece together everything that we find but we need the community to assist us to apprehend these suspects who are doing crimes,” said Patekile.

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Khayelitsha Development Forum (KDF) Safety and Security sector member Nodumo Khuthuka said: “We need surveillance cameras in the area because crime is increasing day by day and none of the criminals who commit serious crimes are being arrested. Just last week five people were shot and killed and we know even in this incident no arrest will be made.

“The reason the residents don't report crime is that the same police tell the suspects who reported them,’ said Khuthuka.

Criminologist and Stellenbosch University political science lecturer Guy Lamb said many mass shootings are related to revenge attacks where one group feels aggrieved by another or there was some kind of intimate relationship involved or there was a humiliating act against one group and that group has to seek revenge.

“It's deeply concerning that we have to see another mass shooting. The incidents that have been reported in the last 24 hours seem to be fairly random shootings. If this is the case, these kinds of mass shootings which we have seen in the province over the recent years is often has to do with a criminal group or gang that is trying to set dominance over a specific area, it is competing with another gang or there is community members or residents in businesses in the area and not willing to pay extortion fees.

“Often you would see gangs moving and shooting randomly to set the dominance and get the community members to take them seriously and listen to what they have to say,” said Lamb.

Lamb said new informal settlements that have sprung up often see new criminal groups trying to extort rentals out of community members that are living there.

“The availability of firearms and ammunition makes it easy for this to happen. These sorts of incidents are quite difficult to detect through crime intelligence but the main issue here is that there needs to be a priority and focus on illegal firearms and ammunition because in the absence of these kinds of weapons we won't see these kinds of mass killings. It's clearly an indication that there is easy accessibility to firearms and ammunition in areas like Khayelitsha and Gugulethu and that is where the operation needs to operate from,” Lamb said.

Acting Community Safety MEC Anroux Marais said: “As we today commemorate Human Rights Day, I am absolutely devastated by these killings and particularly the violation of the most basic human right to life.”

Cape Times

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