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Editor’s View: I’m sick of this

At least five people were shot in what is suspected to be a gang-related shooting at Nyanga Junction Mall near Manenberg. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

At least five people were shot in what is suspected to be a gang-related shooting at Nyanga Junction Mall near Manenberg. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

Published May 26, 2022

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Enough is enough. Sure, we’ve heard that before.

We heard it in 2012, when America’s deadliest elementary school shooting took place at Sandy Hook. We hear it every time there’s a flare-up of gang violence on the Cape Flats.

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We heard it again this week, when yet another school shooting took place in the US, where 18-year-old Salvador Ramos shot dead 19 children and two teachers, wounding a further 17 at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24.

Enough is enough.

Gang violence in Cape Town has reared its head once more, seemingly in response to the attempted assassination of alleged Hard Livings gang boss Zakier “Jonty” Scheepers. Scheepers had allegedly taken over from slain boss Rashied Staggie.

On the day of the shooting, I was sitting across the desk from IOL journalist Robin-Lee Francke.

“They shot Jonty,” she said blankly. After a pause, she said almost painfully: “There’s going to be war.”

And just like that, incidents of alleged gang violence and acts of retaliation followed in Manenberg and Hanover Park.

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The HLs and the Clever Kidz are at war.

And who are the victims? The children who have to go to school amid raging gunfire. A boy who was struck in the head, ostensibly by a stray bullet, while having his hair cut. Commuters waiting for a bus before the break of day at Nyanga Junction, on their way to work.

Enough is enough?

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Across the pond, senators tweeted their “thoughts and prayers” were with the victims and families of victims of America’s third-deadliest mass school shooting. Yes, 19 children gunned down in cold blood ranks third on the list of the deadliest shootings at a school.

In 2007, a student shot dead 32 people at Virginia Tech, using two semi-automatic pistols. The Sandy Hook shooting in 2012 left 26 people dead. Twenty of the victims were either six or seven years old.

The incidents always rekindle the debate about gun ownership and the ease of accessibility of automatic and semi-automatic weapons in the US. And it’s the self-same senators who send their thoughts and prayers, who are the ones backed by gun lobbyists, who actively block legislation that would make it more difficult for civilians to own and access the deadly weapons.

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The Texas shooter used an AR-15 assault rifle. What does a civilian need an assault rifle for? To uphold the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution?

Rights are by no means absolute. Your rights cannot be upheld if they impinge on the rights of others. By consistently upholding and defending the Second Amendment – the right to bear arms – you’ve impinged on the basic human right of children to life.

Think about that for a while. There are lawmakers in the United States who seem to believe the right to bear arms is more important than the lives of children. I’m not even going to mention the ridiculous debate about abortion taking place in the US.

Enough is enough?

Thoughts and prayers won’t stop young Americans from being gunned down in schools. Legislation and enforcement thereof will.

And what of the children living in fear on the Cape Flats? Having to duck and dive under their desks, not knowing if a stray bullet will penetrate the walls of their prefab classrooms, striking one of their classmates.

What of the daily trauma residents suffer, not knowing if you’ll be shot while waiting for a bus or taxi? What of the lasting effects of the trauma on the psyche?

I’m sorry, thoughts and prayers aren’t going to cut it.

We need action.

To the US lawmakers, the time will come where you will be called to account for your inaction.

To our minister of police, you really need to do more to intervene in Manenberg and Hanover Park. Yes, there are systemic and historic and structural reasons behind the gang violence and gangsterism borne out of an unequal system and continued poverty. But you’ve got to do more to address this. Our children are living in fear. Our neighbours are living in fear. Our children, brothers and sisters are being killed.

Enough is enough?

Enough was enough a long time ago.

IOL

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