As the Cape Town Cycle Tour sped past Ocean View on Sunday, residents and roadside crosses bore testament to the gang-related killings and crime in the neighbourhood.
Dubbed the Black Sunday Silent Protest, it was a chance for residents to show the world their pain.
After 7-year-old Emaan Solomons was killed late last month (“Murder after march for peace”, False Bay Echo, February 27), residents placed crosses at the side of the road, on Sunday March 1, in memory of those lives lost to the scourge of gangsterism.
But those crosses were desecrated overnight and some were stolen.
Reece Pagel, whose idea the crosses had been, said the community had decided to make more.
“I spoke to my family and friends, and we decided to simply do it again, but to put the crosses in cement this time. And to use the public attention of the Cape Town Cycle Tour to show the world our pain.”
The community set the new crosses in cement on Saturday March 7 to have them on display early in the morning ahead of the race on Sunday. They were placed early so the residents would not be in the way of the race itself.
“The crosses were noticed. We were noticed, I know that, because many cyclists stopped – in the middle of their race – to speak to us and give us kind words of encouragement,” Ms Pagel said.
Residents were grateful for the support shown to them by those outside the community, she said.
“For a community that feels neglected and forgotten, to have people see us, we are grateful for that.”
The community’s priority now was keeping its children safe, she said. There had been a week of quiet in Ocean View, with only one or two gunshots heard, she said.
“I think everyone is still scared and everyone is just keeping to themselves. The time leading up to this was intense.”
Another resident, who did not want to be named, said the past week had been the quietest the community had seen in months. He described the mood at Sunday’s peaceful protest as being akin to “What else must be done?”
Sergeant Leon Fortuin, of Ocean View police, said the protest had been unmarred by any disruptions and had remained peaceful.
Church members and a group of young missionaries visiting from Alaska were robbed at gunpoint at the Methodist Church in Zodiac Way on Monday.
Various items, including cellphones, were taken, said Sergeant Fortuin.
There were no injuries and the police have not made any arrests.
Johann Kikillus, director of Soteria Ministries, said the young girls from Alaska had been in Ocean View to volunteer at the Ocean View Care Centre, and were now traumatised.
See letters page for Mr Kikillus’s response.