Concern over children caught in the crossfire
Cape Town - When she arrived at the scene her son was being cradled by a neighbour, a bullet wound in his forehead and his eyes open.
Nazeema Cloete could not believe what she was seeing, but she was grateful that he was alive.
“He was playing outside on the road with his friends. I was at a friend’s (place) at the time but I heard the gunshots go off. When I got back they told me my son was hit. He had been shot in the forehead. It all happened all so fast. I was just happy he was still breathing and his eyes were open,” said Cloete.
She said her son had to be sedated for nine days but he is awake now.
“He is moving and talking, however, he is not walking as yet. They (hospital) are providing physiotherapy to help him. I have been here since April 3 with him. I give the family updates now and then. I am just happy he is alive, when we took him to the hospital there was a 50/50 percent chance. As long he is still breathing and able to talk I am so grateful,” said Cloete.
Cloete’s son is one of many children hit by stray bullets, a growing concern for local authorities.
MEC of Community Safety Albert Fritz released a statement saying he is appalled by the number of young people who have been struck by stray bullets in communities including Hanover Park and Manenberg.
Among those injured include Chloe van der Westhuizen, 4, from Hanover Park who has been discharged after being shot in the eye last month. Declyn Wippenaar, 13, was also shot in the area. He was shot in the spine while playing in a football tournament in Philippi.
Fritz said: “I wish each of these young people a speedy recovery. It is unacceptable that people on the Cape Flats, particularly young people, are constantly being subjected to such acts of terrorism where simply playing outside can result in their injury and even death. As a provincial government, we are hard at work implementing numerous initiatives aimed at putting an end to this and to restore calm to our communities.”
“An important element in the increase of gang-related harm, and something that the government really has to prioritise, is the issue of illegal guns and ammunition. We really need to look at getting illegal guns and ammunition out of circulation. This is why we have invested heavily in the LEAP Officer training and implementation programmes, of which the confiscation of illegal guns and ammunition is a key component,” said Fritz.
Eldred de Klerk, a policing expert and a director/senior associate at the African Centre for Security and Intelligence, said a stray bullet has a life of its own.
“There is no real way of hiding from it. Whenever a bullet is shot it has to land somewhere and unfortunately sometimes it hits people. It disrupts people’s lives and (causes) ongoing trauma. It makes people jumpy, causes sleep deprivation because of the fear of being hit,” said De Klerk.