Cape Town - Nathlia Pienaar loved to skip rope.
And while doing her favourite activity, the six-year-old was hit in the head by a stray bullet outside her Lavender Hill home on Saturday.
The Grade R pupil, the latest
victim of escalating gang violence on the Cape Flats, was playing outside her family home when shots were fired after 9.30am. She was still clutching her skipping rope when her bloodied body was found by her family minutes after the shooting.
Nathlia was declared brain-dead
on arrival at the Red Cross War
Memorial Children’s Hospital. She died seven hours later, surrounded by family.
Her family described her as a loving, bubbly child who loved to dance.
Her uncle, Ryan Kruger, 24, was also shot and wounded in the leg during the incident and taken to a nearby hospital. Nathlia’s distraught family are now struggling to make peace with the killing. They claim mounting tensions between the feuding Mongrels and the Fast Guns gangs continue to terrorise their community - in spite of the recent deployment of soldiers to curb the scourge of violence in hot spots on the Cape Flats.
Nathlia’s aunt, Natasha Davids, told Weekend Argus she was preparing to bath a group of children at their home when she heard the gunfire.
Natasha Davids. Video: Tshego Lepule
“Nathlia and I had gone to the shop earlier to buy packets of chips for the kids at home and then a little later she went by herself and came back in one piece, and by then I was preparing bath water for her,” Davids said.
“I turned for a bit and she was gone I heard my aunt screaming for my brother after a lot of gunshots outside, and I ran to help Ryan.
“I turned at the gate and saw Nathlia sprawled on the ground. You could see that she had tried to get off the streets when the shots rang out, but she was caught by one of them. These animals just kept on shooting, even while kids were outside.
“Never in my worst nightmares did I think I would find her laying on her back, still clutching her skipping rope while blood poured down her face from the head wound. I will never erase that picture from my mind all that blood, I would have said she was sleeping.”
Nathlia’s mother, Natalie, 28, said by the time she arrived, her daughter was surrounded by people praying for her to live.
“Everyone wanted to put their hands on her and kept saying she would live, and I held on to those words during the ambulance ride to the hospital,” she said.
“She kept mumbling ‘Puma, Puma’ in the ambulance and that’s what she called her granny who died in December, and after those words, she never spoke again.” Pienaar said when she received news of her daughter’s injuries, she was told to prepare for the worst.
“I know the doctors tried but my baby was already gone.
“I don’t know how to feel. I’m sad, angry, I don’t know.
“My baby will never get to Grade 1; they took that from her and her from me,” the heartbroken mother said.
Police spokesperson Noloyiso Rwexana said cases of murder and attempted murder were registered for investigation following the shooting.
No arrests were made so far.
While weekend murder rates decreased from 43 to 34 last week, the number of gang-related deaths were consistent.