A 32-year-old man was gunned down outside Marine Primary School in Ocean View on Monday November 4 in plain sight of children on their way to school.
According to Ocean View police spokesman, Sergeant Leon Fortuin, the man was taken to hospital in a critical condition after he was shot in the back opposite the school in Milky Way at about 7.30am.
“The police have two suspects with regard to the shooting,” Sergeant Fortuin said.
Shootings had spiked in the past month, he said.
“Our murders and attempted murders have more than doubled over the last month compared to the same period last month,” he said, noting that the moratorium on the release of crime stats stopped him making the exact numbers public.
The shootings were gang-related, he said, but police still don’t know what’s triggered the increase in them.
An eye witness to the shooting, who asked not to be named, described seeing children running for their lives as shots were fired.
“The gangsters are just getting more and more… how do we fight such a battle?”
Marine Primary School principal Wayne Lawrence, said there had been an obvious increase in shootings and gang activity in the past month and he feared daily for the safety of his pupils and staff.
“These shootings are happening more regularly, more boldly, in broad daylight,” he said.
The trauma was apparent on the younger children’s faces, but the older children tended to run towards the shootings to see what was happening, he said.
Some of the pupils were starting to exhibit violent behaviour themselves, he said.
“This can be attributed, in part, to the trauma they are experiencing but it is nevertheless a growing concern.”
The teachers had to remain on high alert and keep children away from the fence, he said. They also had to be ready to get the children to the safety of the classrooms quickly should the shooting start and then debrief them afterwards.
“The school programme is also affected because on days when there has been a shooting, we can’t run the after-school programmes so the children miss these opportunities to learn. Even when we send them home they aren’t safe.”
He described how a 10-year-old child in his school had had his palm grazed by a bullet in a previous shooting and another child had been shot in the foot by a stray bullet when he had slept over at a friend’s home.
“The gangsters are known to the community, but everyone is too afraid to speak out because in the past, people who were witnesses have been killed and the community knows that – there is no protection for anyone who speaks out.”
He said he lived in the leafy southern suburbs and was safe at night, but his children were not.
“People who live outside of Ocean View seldom understand the level of trauma and fear in the area.”
He applauded Fish Hoek High School principal Gavin Fish for arranging a meeting last Thursday when Ocean View teachers, including Mr Lawrence, had a chance to brief their Fish Hoek counterparts on what Ocean View children had to deal with.
“It was a valuable thing to do because we live not far from Fish Hoek but face incredibly different issues,” Mr Lawrence said. He appealed to his parents to keep their children close and safe during the upcoming school holidays.
Johann Kikillus, of the Ocean View Care Centre, said there had been several shootings right outside his centre for many of the community’s pre-school children.
“There are hot spots which are all around high traffic areas – schools, clinic, library, rent office, churches and taxi ranks,” he said. Most shootings happened between the council
“Children and the elderly are always affected by the shootings with very high rates of trauma, which is capable of bringing on emotional and mental issues, never mind academic ones.”
Mr Kikillus said those who had seen the shooters described them as very young.
“While it would be a great help to have more police visibility, it is impossible to police all these areas at once. We need to look at deeper issues: why are these young men engaging in violent activities instead of finishing school?”
He asked what could be done to ensure pupils reached schools safely each morning and whether religious groups could do something to help the youth.
“Ocean View children don’t dream anymore,” he said. “We need to teach them to dream – and then assist them in reaching those goals. Are our social development and education systems adequate to assist the
5000 minors being affected by a culture of violence and addiction?”