Gangsters vow to lay down arms

Lavender Hill, where gangs held hands and made peace Photo by Michael Walker

Lavender Hill, where gangs held hands and made peace Photo by Michael Walker

Published Dec 16, 2011

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Standing hand-in-hand in church, heads bowed and eyes shut, rival gangsters in gang-ravaged Lavender Hill observed a moment’s silence in memory of the victims of their gang war.

Moments before, representatives of the Corner Boys, Mongrels and the Junky Funky Kids – the three gangs at war mainly over drug turf – signed a peace pact yesterday.

The gangsters then walked around the area apologising to community members for what they had done, seeking forgiveness for their killings. Residents cheered.

In four months, 15 people have been killed in gang violence in Lavender Hill, near Muizenberg, resulting in the community becoming the most notorious in the province in terms of gangsterism.

Yesterday about 20 gangsters and a handful of religious and community leaders met at the Methodist Church in Lavender Hill for the gangsters to formally vow to put an end to their war.

Community Safety MEC Dan Plato and self-confessed former 28s gangster Ernest Solomon, better known as Ernie Lastig, were also present.

The gangsters, many with tattoos on their arms, sat on plastic chairs and bowed their heads as prayers were said.

Solomon, now a member of the Western Cape Community Outreach Programme, was one of those who addressed them, saying that drugs fuelled gangsterism.

“When I grew up there were no drugs or cigarettes. Those are things that were in other countries and that were brought here,” he said. Solomon said the authorities needed to clamp down on drug lords who were behind the transporting of drugs.

Plato thanked those who had helped organise the peace accord.

“I also want the killing of people to stop. The idea is that we must stop the killings, the bloodshed,” he said.

The leaders of the Corner Boys, Mongrels and the Junky Funky Kids then signed the peace accord, shook one another’s hands and stood alongside one another, smiling.

Then, after the minute of silence for the victims of the gang violence, the 20 gangsters walked around the community to various gang turfs and apologised to residents.

A big crowd gathered and followed the group.

An armoured police vehicle tailed the crowd.

Outside a block of flats where Grade 8 pupil Carmelita Martin was fatally shot in October, Mugamad Abrahams, a member of the Corner Boys, addressed residents. “Listen, we want peace. We’re asking for your forgiveness. We are sorry for this,” he said.

Abrahams’s voice was then drowned out as residents cheered. While walking to another area, Mark Tobias, a member of the Junky Funky Kids, said he welcomed the accord. “I feel quite good about myself. I hope this does put an end to the shootings,” he said.

Tobias said yesterday it was the first time in two years he had been able to walk in the street without a gun, which he previously carried to protect himself from rival gangsters.

Vivian September, a resident, said she believed the peace accord would end the gang violence in Lavender Hill.

But another resident, who declined to be named, said she feared the gangsters would start fighting again. She spoke while standing in her home next to a window which had a bullet hole in it, from a recent gang shooting. - Cape Times

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