Gang conflict claims more lives

Lindsay and Monique Cottle hold a picture of their daughter Scarlett Cottle who was shot and killed last year. Monique was killed in a drive-by shooting last week.

The community of Ottery have taken matters in their own hands following more fatal shootings in the area.

As a last resort residents have created their own speed bumps in several roads to slow down cars who come through the area to hopefully discourage drive-by shootings as most of the recent shootings had the same modus operandi.

One of the families in Ottery were dealt a double blow when just under seven months ago four year-old Scarlett Cottle was shot and killed while sitting on her bed, playing on her mother’s phone in their Wendy house on the corner of Bruce Road and Edward Street. Last week Scarlett’s mother, 26-year-old Monique Cottle suffered the same fate when she was shot and killed while sitting with her partner and friends at Radnor Court.

According to Grassy Park police they responded to a shooting incident at about 8pm on Friday April 15.

“Upon arrival officers found two people deceased, on the corner of Radnor Court in Hector road, Ottery. They also found 16 empty cartridges and one projectile on scene,” said spokesperson Captain Wynita Kleinsmith.

Three people were found shot including Monique, a 32-year-old man who died on the scene and a 19-year-old man who sustained gunshot wounds to his legs and was taken to hospital for treatment.

According to police, the latest drive-by shooting was done by suspects driving a silver Toyota RunX.

In the shooting in October last year, Scarlett along with Ricardo Beukes, 48, were fatally shot.

The area had recently been plagued by gang shootings including a 17-year-old who was shot and killed while walking next to his mother.

Residents say the area is highly volatile and unsafe as threats had been making the rounds on social media of a particular gang allegedly targeting “anyone walking” in a revenge attack for previous shootings.

Community worker Wade Matthews said people are afraid to come out of their homes because anyone can become a target. “We made it more difficult for the gangsters to do drive-by shootings by creating snake humps to make it more difficult for them to come and go out of the area.

Angry residents closed Bruce Road and other roads in Ottery in an attempt to stop drive-by shootings.

“That’s the only measure we felt we could do with immediate action because we feel that things are getting out of control and we are not getting the help we so desperately need from the government or police.”

He said the people who were shot on Friday weren’t gangsters. “The man who was killed was visiting friends in the area when he was shot. They had nothing to do with gangsters, they were just sitting, enjoying themselves when the shots rang out.”

Community activist Brandon Eckhardt who started an organisation called Life Changers to assist troubled youth and others said retaliation shootings were the reason for the shootings last week.

“The threats are real, they are threatening to shoot anyone walking on a certain side of Ottery. There are two gangs who are responsible for the current shootings so the community closed the roads as a method.

“We have been standing together as a community and saying ‘one community, one Ottery’. The community has done all they could, we marched, we pleaded, every NGO and every religious institution we are putting our hands up and asking for urgent help,” said Mr Eckhardt.

Former ward councillor Melanie Arendse said Ottery had been quiet since the handmade speed humps have been up. “There have been no other drive-by shootings because of the speed humps and we are going to keep them in place until the government comes here so that we can come to some kind of resolution because we are tired of losing innocent people to this gang war.”

Captain Kleinsmith said no arrests have been made so far. “According to eyewitnesses the suspect drove a silver Toyota RunX and shot out of the vehicle. Anyone with information can call the Grassy Park Serious and Violent Crimes (SVC) unit on 082 302 3776.”