A wave of violence that has swept through Cape Town leaving a trail of devastation in its wake has seen more than 10 people murdered in just over two weeks.
In the most recent incidents, three men were shot dead on Sunday in what police believe could be linked to extortion or possibly a retaliation attack in Nyanga. They were ambushed by their killers at around 4pm in Ntlangano Crescent. One of them was found inside his white Toyota Avanza, the other next to the vehicle while the third person was in a tailoring business operating from a container in the street, according to police spokesperson Andre Traut.
In another incident six people were shot, four of them killed and two seriously wounded during a spate of gang-related gunfire in Manenberg on Saturday.
The shootings come after two instances of triple murders in Heinz Park, Samora Machel, last weekend in separate shootings. It also follows a mass murder in Imizamo Yethu, Hout Bay, during the same weekend, which saw four people killed.
Reflecting on Saturday’s shootings, a Manenberg resident who asked to remain anonymous said: “It was so loud, we thought it was right outside the house. It’s very upsetting, you don’t feel safe, you are not free to do things. You’re trapped in your house. We couldn’t even leave the house and my husband had to go to work. The shooting is unnecessary.
It’s aimless and pointless. We don’t even know what it’s about. They (gangs) have problems with each other, but innocent people must suffer.”
The police confirmed four cases of murder and two of attempted murder were being investigated.
In one of the incidents, the police said members of a gang attacked a house in search of their intended target, but he was not there so they shot at the house, wounding those inside.
“Additional integrated deployments, supplemented by high density patrols involving SAPS specialised units and other law enforcement entities and counterparts such as Traffic, City of Cape Town Law Enforcement and Leap officers were initiated following several shooting incidents in the Manenberg area since Saturday morning at 2am,” said police spokesperson FC van Wyk.
Detailing the sequence of events, he said that at 2am, a woman was shot dead on Greatfish Road. By 5.45am, a 30-year-old man had also been shot and killed, and a 40-year-old man and a 46-year-old woman were wounded in a shooting on Scheldt Road. At 6am that morning, a 26-year-old man also succumbed to a fatal gunshot wound, and by 6.45am a 59-year-old woman was hit in the upper leg during crossfire between gang members.
“During this gang conflict two males were taken to a nearby emergency medical facility, where both succumbed due to injuries sustained. They were brought in by unknown persons,” Van Wyk said.
Manenberg Community Police Forum (CPF) chairperson Vernon Visagie said the situation remained tense.
“People are on the alert because of what is taking place in Manenberg.
Over this past week we picked up six bodies already. “The gang members are jumping fence, that’s the reason why the gang war has flared up again. We aren’t getting to the real core of the problem. It’s getting worse, lawlessness is increasing. Crime has moved from corners into houses, gender-based violence is also getting out of control. It will take the community with the help of all authorities to work together to eradicate this once and for all,” he said.
Criminologist Dr Simon Howell shed light on the recent surge in violence, attributing it to internal conflicts within gangs. “The recent outbreaks of violence signal issues in gangs. A lot of them are fragmenting, tearing apart, something to do with higher leadership issues. So there are big issues, a lot of people are moving around, with the splitting it leaves issues like who's got what territory, drug distribution lines, leadership lines, places of activity – all have to be decided. It’s decided through violence,” said Howell.
He emphasised the need for long term societal responses to eradicate gang violence.
“Knee-jerk responses of sending the police, military, more violence is not going to solve the violence because it’s not dealing with the real reason for it. It does not deal with why they are joining, why gangs exist,” added Howell.
He said that in communities affected by gang violence, there was little access to the formal economy and there were issues of identity, among others, while gangs offered riches and power immediately.
“To deal with gangs, they need to make the communities functional and liveable,” he said.
Western Cape MEC of Police Oversight and Community Safety, Reagen Allen, said the recent fatal shootings in Manenberg were worrying.
Anyone with any relevant information can anonymously contact Manenberg SAPS at 021 699 9400, Crime Stop at 08600 10111, or use the mobile app MySAPS.