In yet another gang related incident, residents of Leonsdale, in Elsies River, were forced to run for cover as violence erupted, only this time stray bullets were not the concern. Over the weekend, a young girl, Zhekira Jansen, was not in the firing line of stray bullets, but was used as a human shield by a gang member. The 11-year-old was at Leonsdale Supermarket & Butchery on Sunday when rival gang members faced off just after 10:00 in the morning, this after she was sent to the shop by her foster mother, Rachel Ramjas. Jansen was shot in the left side of her head while another female customer was wounded in the arm. Jansen was consequently rushed to Tygerberg Hospital.
Vice –chairperson of the Elsies River Community Police Forum, Imraahn Mukaddam explains that the incident is as a result of a drug related war within the Leonsdale area, following the death of the Bad Boys Leader.
Describing the recent incident, he says on Sunday a gangster ran into a shop, shots were subsequently fired at him from outside the shop, after which he proceeded to use Jansen as a human shield.
“We feel that it is a very coward act to use a civilian; it’s not a stray bullet – he actually pulled the young girl in front of him whilst he was being attacked.”
Giving widespread concerns about gang violence both within the Leonsdale area and the greater Cape Flats, he notes that residents are questioning the source of the firearms used by gang members.
“We had an incident yesterday in Shoprite, where a vendor was shot and killed – our whole area is a total war-zone and we are saying not enough is being done to get the guns out of the system.”
In addition, he notes that at the weekend a rifle and other firearms are reported to have been confiscated within the area.
As a result of continued gang violence, the CPF is appealing to both Mayor Patricia De Lille, city authorities and the police to put forward a reward for each firearm as an incentive for the guns within the Cape Flats to be confiscated.
Describing the situation as a “war situation”, Mukaddam asserts that young children are forced to work as “child soldiers” within the hierarchy of gangs.
“It’s just so shocking that ordinary people have rifles with telescopes – it’s ridiculous the kind of weapon’s that our communities are being exposed to.”
With regards to the identity of perpetrators, he says that within the community there is a culture of protecting members of gangs.
“Their mother knows that they have guns, their mothers know that they are criminals, their mothers know that they are bringing stolen goods into the homes – that needs to change.”
In light of growing calls for individuals to come forward with information about gang members and gang activity within the community, on Sunday, the CPF hosted a meeting that focussed on the issue of the witnessed protection programme.
Mukaddam, however, says that individuals within the programme are unable to follow the rules outlined for their safety and the strengthening of cases and expose themselves too much.
“They can’t even stay three months in a programme and they go out and then all the cases collapse that we have against perpetrators because the witnesses get targeted.”
As a means to deter youngsters away from gang activity, he asserts that government needs to implement a programme directed toward encouraging youngsters to develop life goals, allowing them to see the possibilities that life has to offer.