Western Cape / 15 January 2020, 4:20pm / Genevieve Serra/Daily Voice
Cape Town - A 15-year-old girl has been killed after gunshots went off while soldiers were shooting in an informal settlement in Athlone.
Celeste Carelse of Belgravia was sitting in a car in Vygieskraal when she was shot.
She was due to start Grade 9 at Athlone High School on Wednesday but instead, her family is preparing to bury her.
On Sunday night, the “strong-willed” teen left her grandmother's home in Athlone with a friend to deliver food.
She never returned home after being shot three times while sitting in a car in Veld Road, just before 11pm.
The teen was rushed to Groote Schuur hospital after being shot in the back, arm and shoulder.
On Monday at 2pm, Celeste passed away.
Residents in The Vlei informal settlement claim soldiers were searching for suspects and were beating up young men when the shots rang out.
But Celeste’s family says they are not prepared to speculate on who is responsible for her death until the police investigation is complete.
Her heartbroken aunt, Samantha Petersen, 33, says: “We still heard the gunshots and didn’t even know that she was shot.
“We heard she was inside a car when she was shot. We were focused on her wellbeing and healing (and didn’t think about who shot her).
“She had been at her grandmother’s home and she apparently left there with this friend to deliver food.”
Samantha says ballistic tests will show who fired the shots: “The bullet will tell us who shot her. We do not know if it is police, the army or gangsters, so we will wait until the investigation is complete.”
She says Celeste was an outspoken young woman and will be missed, but the family has accepted that “it was her time”.
“We are not God, we all are living here on borrowed time on earth. Ons almal het ‘* tyd.”
A resident from The Vlei informal settlement, who asked not to be identified, claims the army was assaulting people at the same time Celeste was shot.
“One guy is still in hospital and they took him out of the canal (Monday) morning, he was lying there since Sunday night after the army beat him up.
“When the army was here, they were shooting at two guys that ran and this girl was sitting in the car. The bullet got stuck in her back.
“The army and police have been looking for guns and drugs for the past week.”
The South Africa National Defence Force (SANDF) directed queries to SAPS, saying “it’s a police matter”.
Police spokesperson, Siyabulela Malo, says the incident was reported to police.
“A case of murder has been opened for investigation, no arrests have been made at this stage.”
Malo didn’t respond to queries about SAPS presence at the informal settlement on Sunday night.