Cape Town – Police investigations have intensified after Zhario Johnson, 2, died of gunshot wounds in hospital on Thursday.
The toddler’s father, Moegamat Johnson, was shot in the same incident on Wednesday night, in an alleged drive-by shooting. He died on the spot in Bonteheuwel Avenue.
The murders came as Child Protection Week, which this year is observed under the theme “Let us all protect children during Covid-19 and beyond”, comes to an end.
Police spokesperson Novela Potelwa said Zhario was shot when he accompanied his father to a shop.
“Bishop Lavis police are hard at work probing a shooting incident where a 2-year-old child died after he and his father came under fire in Bonteheuwel.
“A 31-year-old man was walking from a nearby shop on Bonteheuwel Avenue at 7.15pm, carrying the child when a vehicle stopped next to them,” said Potelwa.
Two men got out of the vehicle and started shooting at the pair.
The father died on the scene while Zhario was rushed to hospital. He later died at the the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.
Anyone with information can anonymously contact Crime Stop on 0860010111 or SMS Crime Line on 32211.
Bishop Lavis CPF chairperson Graham Lindhorst said gang violence in the precinct had continued unabated during the nationwide lockdown.
“We sympathise with the family of the little boy as it was very unfortunate that he died. The community is fed up with gang-related shootings, which have continued unabated during the lockdown.
"We’ll be asking for more visibility of the police as they haven’t been as visible in the area as they were at the beginning of the lockdown,” said Lindhorst.
Gender-based violence advocacy group Ilitha Labantu’s spokesperson, Siyabulela Monakali, said that the violence perpetrated against children, especially during the pandemic, was “a sad state of affairs” and that children deserved protection.
“With incidents like these, it goes to show that in a violent society children always suffer the most. Child Protection Week, like the other annually commemorated days of awareness
over the years, have lost their impetus and have failed to actively engage
on the issues they ought to address,” he said.
The Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital reported that it had seen a steady flow of children coming through the facility who had been victims of abuse, neglect and violence, even during the lockdown period.
Hospital spokesperson, Dwayne Evans, said a hard stand had to be taken for the vulnerable in society.
“We call on everyone who witnesses or suspects child neglect, and/or violence against children, to please step forward and report the cases,” he said.