Gangsters are giving guns to kids in Ocean View, roping them into a bloody turf war that has cost at least five lives in less than a month.
Police confirmed this to the Echo this week, following yet another gang-related shooting that claimed the life of a 52-year old man and left a 36-year-old wounded.
Police say the shootings are prompted by gangsters fighting for top-ranking positions and rivals’ turf after the leaders of three gangs in the area were arrested for attempted murder.
Ocean View police spokesman Sergeant Leon Fortuin said two gang leaders had been arrested last year and one in April this year. They are awaiting trial.
The man killed in Arries Avenue at 8.15pm on Sunday night was not the target of the shooting, nor was the wounded man, said police. They had not been named because their families had not been informed, said police.
Police have no suspects and those responsible for the shootings are still at large. Sergeant Fortuin confirmed reports of 12 year olds running with guns in the area and shooting randomly at people.
He said gangsters gave the children guns to fight for turf to sell their drugs.
He told how last Friday the mother of a 29-year-old arrested with a gun had argued her son was only keeping it for someone else.
“The police tried to explain to her that that, in itself, was a crime and the charge against her son was illegal possession of a firearm, not ownership of a firearm, but she still shouted at the police saying her son is innocent. This happens on a regular basis,” Sergeant Fortuin said.
He urged people to come forward with information about crime and report it to Ocean View SAPS at 021 783 8300 or Crime Stop at 08600 10111.
“By keeping quiet, the community is assisting the gangsters to get away with their crimes,” he said.
On Tuesday, police patrolling Neptune Way searched a group of young men and arrested a 16-year-old carrying a flare gun that had been modified to fire bullets.
They also found a gun loaded with one round.
Meanwhile two Ocean View community leaders say the community’s children are deeply traumatised and lack a sense of identity.
Ishmael Sabodien is a member of the South Peninsula Khoi Customary Council, and is known as Ishsaqua. He spent 25 years in environmental education and now runs a programme in Ocean View to re-introduce Khoi descendants to their culture, language and history.
Johann Kikillus is a horticulturist turned Christian minister, and is the director of Soteria Ministeries and the Ocean View Care Centre, where he helps adults and children deal with the trauma of living in a war zone.
Mr Kikillus said that when he started working with troubled youth eight years ago, the average age of the child referred to him was 14, and usually the worst thing they had been up to was smoking dagga.
Every year since, that age had dropped and the trouble they were involved in had grown graver.
“Last week I had a 7 and 8 year old in my office, refusing to go back to school, because they want to join a gang because they can earn money,” he said.
Constant exposure to the trauma of violence, gangs and poverty is not a recipe for a happy childhood, and Mr Kikillus said many parents battled to discipline their children – setting boundaries to keep them safe.
Mr Sabodien said Ocean View had a generation of children with no sense of identity, belonging or purpose.
Both Mr Kikillus and Mr Sabodien said it was tragic the children of Ocean View were surrounded by natural beauty that drew visitors from all over the world, yet the children themselves did not get to appreciate it.
The two men want to start taking the children on outings into nature, away from the crime and the trauma. They say there is also a great need for qualified trauma counsellors in Ocean View.
The men want to work with anyone who can help tackle the crisis in their community. In particular, they say, there is a great need for qualified trauma counsellors.
“We want solutions-based discussions and actions. If we want change, we are going to have to make it happen ourselves through positive community collaboration,” Mr Kikillus said.
To help in any way contact Johann on 084 280 2213 and firstname.lastname@example.org and Ishmael on 084 2216 677.