GONE: Ronald Snipper. Picture supplied
GONE: Ronald Snipper. Picture supplied

Brave gang war mediator dies of Covid-19

By Monique Duval Time of article published Jan 15, 2021

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Cape Town – Manenberg residents held a memorial service to pay tribute to a beloved community worker who devoted his life to bringing peace to the gang-ridden area.

Ronald Desmond Snipper’s family was left heartbroken when the man known for his role in mediating between gang bosses during some of the bloodiest gang wars died of Covid-19.

His wife Francis, 75, says the 66-year-old, fondly known as “Boeta Errol”, was admitted to Groote Schuur Hospital on New Year's Eve after falling ill on Christmas day.

“At the time they said he had high blood pressure, then they said his temperature was high. When he went to Groote Schuur, we found out that he had contracted Covid-19,” she says.

Ronald Snipper’s wife Francis, 75. Picture: Supplied

On 8 January, the family was informed that he had died.

The couple was married for 42 years and after losing both his sons, Errol and Donavan, to gang violence, Ronald decided to do something and approached gang leaders for peace talks.

Residents say the brave dad ventured with his best friend, known as Uncle Jimmy, to the homes of gang bosses to plead with them to bring an end to the bloodshed.

Each time trouble started brewing between rival gangs, Boeta Errol would be called in to negotiate.

“He told me he had a vision in church and he was very much for the community,” says Francis.

“Sometimes when they would phone him, a gang fight had already started and there were shootings, I would tell him not to go.

Maar wanne ek sien is hy weg (But when I look again, he has gone), and he always said God would protect him.

“Sometimes they [the gang leaders] would meet here in the yard to make peace and I would lock my door because I was worried.”

Wife Francis, 75, and family at memorial service. Picture supplied

A high-ranking member of the Hard Livings, who asked not to be named, told the Daily Voice that the gangsters were saddened by Ronald’s death.

“Since Rashaad (Staggie) died our door has always been open for peace.

“We don’t look for moelikheid (trouble), but if it comes we must handle it. Boeta Errol always reached out and brought us around the table.”

The heavily tattooed man, who admits to spending time in the mang (jail), says Boeta Errol’s approach made all the difference.

“He always made a breakthrough and these days there aren’t many people who have experience in working with gangs.

“He was well-respected in the community. He was someone who would always look for help for others, but never put his own hands out for money.

“That is why we respected him because he did it for the community.”

Boeta Errol remembered. Picture supplied

On Thursday, candles were lit in his honour. Boeta Errol will be laid to rest on Saturday. Brave gang war mediator dies after battling Covid-19

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