Boy, 7, dies in crossfire

Desiree Daniels with her granddaughter Nikia Daniels with a picture of Ezra who died at the weekend.

A Parkwood mother told the heartbreaking story of her son’s last moments after he was shot near their home in Abdullah Moosa Walk in Parkwood on Sunday, September 3.

Ezra Daniels, 7, was playing in the street with his friends when gangsters opened fire after 4pm.

One of the stray bullets hit Ezra in his neck and exited his skull.

Mother Desiree Daniels recalled seeing her son a few minutes before the shooting when he came in to ask for biscuits.

She gave him the biscuits and he happily ran out to continue playing with his friends as he usually does.

A while later she was called outside to say her son had been shot.

“When they told me I honestly didn’t think it was as bad as it was. I thought he’d maybe been shot in the leg or arm or something. When I ran to where he was lying, I could see a hole in his neck and another behind his head. There was so much blood but he was still breathing. A few minutes later he struggled to breathe and his eyes rolled back. I held his hand, closed his eyes and then he was gone,” said Ms Daniels.

The mother of four said Ezra, a Hyde Park Primary School pupil, was a jolly, hyperactive child who loved cartoons and brought joy to their home.

After the shooting on Sunday, angry Parkwood residents burned tyres and stoned and damaged police vehicles, screaming “we want justice” and “enough is enough”, referring to the ongoing gang violence in the area between gangs the Americans and the Junky Funky Kids.

Community worker and chairperson of NPO Voice of Parkwood, Pastor Paul Phillips, said he understands why the community reacted with hostility.

“The uprising of the community is a reflection of their frustration, a reflection of the non service delivery by the police and the people who are supposed to protect our community. There are shootings almost daily in Parkwood. Now we’ve lost another son, another young innocent child to gang shootings and the community want answers as to why nothing was done about the violence in the area since the last child, Jayden Smith, was shot and killed,” said Mr Phillips.

Jayden, 10, was shot in his home in January last year when gangsters fleeing from a gunman sought refuge in his house in Blackbird Avenue.

Selfiro Petersen was arrested for the murder and was sentenced to two life terms in prison.
Grassy Park police spokesperson Warrant Officer Wynita Kleinsmith confirmed the shooting was gang-related and that four men and one woman, between the ages of 18 and 30, were arrested.

Mr Phillips, however, claimed those arrested had a history of shooting people in Parkwood. “They are arrested but then they are granted bail, and they are instructed by the courts not to come back to the community but then they are right back on the streets shooting again. It’s another indication that the justice system is failing our community. The system is dysfunctional,” he said.

“Our community is hurt. How many white coffins are going to have to go out of our community for us to be taken seriously?” asked Mr Phillips.

Ms Daniels also worried that those arrested would be released back in the community.

“I am happy that there were arrests but tomorrow they will be out again. Something must be done because tomorrow it will be someone else’s child shot dead and Ezra’s killers will still be walking the streets,” said Ms Daniels.

In response to the violence inflicted on police by the community, Grassy Park Community Police Forum (CPF) spokesperson, Philip Bam, said the forum understands the community’s frustration. “Another child’s life is snatched away because of illegal firearms in the area.

“Police attended to the situation having to face an angry crowd who wanted to deal with one of the suspects detained by the police. The police vehicle was attacked with a pick handle damaging the windscreen and body of the vehicle. Constables were manhandled in the effort to get to this suspect. We call upon the community to stay calm and not to take their frustration out on the police,” said Mr Bam.

He added that damaging the very resources that must help the community is not the kind of response expected from responsible citizens.

He said something urgently needed to be done to stop the gang violence.

“We demand that the guns be removed from Parkwood Estate and other suburbs in the Grassy Park police area. This cannot continue as if it is normal. This is an abnormal situation and calls for drastic measures. One more child in Parkwood taken from us is one too many. We say stop the violence now,” he said.

Grassy Park police station’s acting station commander, Lieutenant Colonel Christian Esau, called upon the community of Parkwood to stay calm and to allow officers to do their work, and not to take their frustration out on them.

“Much needed resources are damaged and residents assault officers. We condemn such behaviour of the community we serve and protect and urge them to work with Grassy Park police in combating crime,” he said.

A case of public violence, assault on an officer and malicious damage to property has been opened.

“Police have a reward system whereby good money is being rewarded for positive information supplied to police about crime which results in the successful arrest and prosecution of criminals,” said Lieutenant Colonel Esau.

Anyone with information on crime in Grassy Park can call 021 700 3940 or Crime Stop at 08600 10111. All information will be treated as highly confidential.