Cape Town 23-12-10 - Salt River Mortuary and pathologist Marshall Maritz Picture Brenton Geach

Cape Town - Cape Town lived up to its reputation of murder capital this past weekend, when between 4pm on Friday and 7.30am on Monday 44 people had died violently.

A total of 29 people were stabbed to death, 12 were shot and three were beaten – victims of assault and blunt trauma.

Of the 12 who were shot dead, four are believed to have been gang related. They died in Mitchells Plain, Lavender Hill and Valhalla Park. The 44 bodies were taken to the Salt River and Tygerberg mortuaries.

The figures were confirmed by Professor Lorna Martin, the head of UCT’s Clinical Laboratory Services’ forensic medicine division.

On Monday, Martin said the figure was slightly higher than this time last year, but around average for the winter holidays.

Among the dead were:

* A man, aged about 30, who was shot dead in Compassberg Street, Tafelsig, Mitchells Plain, on Sunday night.

* Mervin Jagger, 24, was gunned down in Eleanor Street, Valhalla Park, at about 1.30am on Monday.

* Two men, aged 18 and 31, were shot dead in Grindel Crescent, Lavender Hill on Saturday just after 10pm. Two men, both aged 19, were also injured.

No arrests have been made yet in any of these cases, said police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Andre Traut.

Community leaders and analysts have spoken out against the shocking figures.

William Jonas, a Mitchells Plain resident and member of the South African National Civics Organisation (Sanco), suspects rival gangs are fighting over drug turf.

The community was “extremely scared” as random shootings had become a regular occurrence in the past weeks. On Sunday at about 7pm three shots rang out around the corner from his home, he said. “The streets cleared within seconds. It’s a daily thing here – people mostly stay indoors now, as bullets fly at all times of the day. The gangs are well organised and members position themselves on the road so they can alert each other when a police van is approaching. So when they arrive at the scene the gangs are long gone.”

Jonas said gang members were well known in the area, and some had taken to wearing women’s clothing and wigs so the community would not recognise them. “The people are afraid to speak up because they will be killed as soon as they start talking.”

He said Sanco will embark on a door-to-door campaign tomorrow in the area to urge residents to speak out and to report incidents to the police.

Abie Isaacs, the Mitchells Plain Community Police Forum’s chairman, condemned the incidents.

“Three people were shot on Sunday night – one person died and two were injured.”

Isaacs said fights over drug turf accounted for the gang-related shootings. “It’s purely about drug turf and it happens quite often. We condemn this in the strongest way and urge the community to come forward with any information.”

Provincial CPF spokesman Hanif Loonat said communities should withdraw their allegiance to gangsters.

“We cannot allow this to carry on any longer – but can only put a stop to it once the community says they have had enough. In the past these incidents were isolated to one area, but now they have spread across the Cape Flats. It is difficult for the police to tackle the problem.”

Communities were usually aware of imminent gang shootings before they took place.

“They are informed. Communities should stop being silent and stop assisting gangsters, because tomorrow it could be their family members in the crossfire.”

Ayesha Davids, a member of the CPF in Lavender Hill, said she had been threatened by known gang members in her area.

“They told me, before the weekend is over I will be dead,” she said. We don’t sleep well at night and the police can’t ensure our safety.

We are at the point where the community is contemplating taking justice into their own hands, to drive the gangs out.

“Police don’t see the seriousness of the situation. The Nyala that is parked here doesn’t frighten the gangs. Even the justice system is not on our side. We see gang members back in the community hours or days after they were arrested,” she said.

“The community doesn’t bother reporting the shootings anymore. We just have to do it ourselves.”

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Cape Argus