Cape Town - Instead of joining his friends for the first day of school on Wednesday, six-year-old Jermaine Taylor spent the day in hospital after being shot in the arm.
Jermaine was walking outside the gates of Matroos Holy Trinity RC Primary School in Elsies River when a gunman opened fire.
He and another boy, aged 17, were hit in what police describe as a “gang-related” shooting.
A few hours later, Jerome Taylor, Jermaine’s father, spoke to the Cape Argus from Tygerberg Hospital. His son, still wearing a bloodied school shirt, had just been discharged, with his left arm in a cast and his right hand in a bandage.
Taylor’s shirt was also bloodied from having carried his son after the shooting. He recalls seeing the gunman shooting “wildly” and hearing about seven shots.
“I thank God that the injuries weren’t more serious,” he said.
“After the shots I heard screaming. It was my son and he was shouting ‘Eina! Eina!’ Then I saw the blood. As I ran up to him I honestly did not know what to expect. I knew the bullet had hit him, but I did not know where.”
Taylor carried his son to the school’s reception area where a teacher administered first aid. A short while later, an ambulance took the boy to hospital.
Deputy principal Jerome Pillay said the school community was traumatised by the shooting – the second to be witnessed by staff since the beginning of the week.
On Monday, alleged gangsters were involved in a shoot-out on an open field near the school.
Education Department spokeswoman Bronagh Casey said that psychologists and the Safe Schools division had been dispatched to the school to assist with counselling and security arrangements. Police would also be at the school on Thursday.
Renecia Piekaan, Jermaine’s Grade R teacher last year, described him as a gentle, sensitive and clever boy.
“He likes drumming and plays in the church band,” his father said. “He also loves soccer and going to school.”
But Taylor is afraid that his son might not want to return to school because of the trauma of the shooting. He bemoaned the escalation of gang fighting in Elsies River and called on the government to support community structures that were trying to broker peace.
“What has become of a community when our children cannot walk safely to school?” he asked.
“There are so many bullets flying around that we no longer know where to duck with our heads. Today, it was my child. Tomorrow, it will be someone else’s.”
Police have arrested a 27-year-old Ravensmead man for the shooting. He is due to appear in court on Thursday.