Man killed and child injured in Lavender Hill shooting

Washief Apollis was shot and killed near his home on Thursday March 17.

The streets of Lavender Hill are marred by violence and those living there have once again appealed for urgent intervention.

In the most recent incident, Washief Apollis, 34, was shot and killed around the corner from his home and an 11-year-old boy was shot in the ankle on the evening of Thursday March 17.

Residents say sporadic shootings have been taking place every day without fail for more than a month.

Mr Apollis and the minor were sitting on the corner of St Thomas and St Barnabas streets in Lavender Hill when a silver/grey VW Polo opened fire on them and several other children at 7.45pm.

He died on the scene and sustained gunshot wounds to his head and legs. The 11-year-old was transported to Retreat day hospital and Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital for treatment.

Mr Apollis, who celebrated his 34th birthday just two weeks ago, had been working in construction and would come home for two weeks at a time. He came home from Bethlehem in the Free State earlier this month to celebrate his birthday and was set to work in Johannesburg after the long weekend.

His death came as a shock to his mother, who did not want to be named, because he wasn’t a gangster, according to the grieving woman.

No arrests have been made after the shooting.

On the evening of the shooting, Mr Apollis took home one of the children his mother had cared for and she was expecting him back for Shab-e-Barat, the night of repentance from sins.

“Not long after he left gunshots went off and two young girls came running in by our gate to shield from the bullets. I let them in, closed the gate and then someone came to say Washief had been shot.”

She rushed to where her son was laying and assured him that he would be okay: “He was still conscious but there was so much blood, I think he must have knocked his head. I told him everything will be fine and that the ambulance is on its way.”

She took his phone and stepped away but not long after someone informed her that Washief died. The woman believes the bullets weren’t meant for her son but a gangster who had been standing in the road.

“We are devastated but I believe that it was all in Allah’s plan, I can’t question it but I know the bullet wasn’t intended for him because as far as I know my son wasn’t a gangster.”

She said her son was a kind soul who helped where and however he could in the community.

Steenberg police spokesperson, Captain Richard Marcus, confirmed the incident and said a case of murder and attempted murder is being investigated and appealed to anyone who saw the incident to contact the police.

“A silver/ grey VW Polo with tinted windows drove past them slowly and one of the passengers in the back of the vehicle started shooting at the victims. The vehicle sped off after the incident.”

He said the suspects are unknown at this stage and no witnesses were able to provide the registration number of vehicle.

Ralph Bouwers, a community worker and a cousin of Mr Apollis, said the situation in Lavender Hill is worsening by the day.

“Gangsters are shooting from early in the mornings to late at night and they are shooting into crowds of children and youngsters without thinking about the innocent.

“It is heartbreaking to lose an innocent person and for an innocent child to be shot while walking in the road. There are meetings and there is a lot of talk about the shootings in Lavender Hill but there is no action; there is no counselling for our community. People and children specifically are traumatised by the ongoing shootings but nothing is happening to stop it.”

Mr Bouwers said further intervention such as surveillance, more police visibility and more law enforcement by other agencies is much needed in Lavender Hill.

Steenberg Community Police Forum spokesperson, Gavin Walbrugh, appealed to the gangs in the area to stop the shootings for the benefit of the community: “Families are losing their loved ones, people are scared to walk in the streets and they’re living in fear every day.”

Mr Walbrugh called on the community to come forward with information that could lead to arrests.

Steenberg station commander, Colonel Jan Alexander, said the shootings are done by three gangs who are operating in the area and most of the incidents are retaliation shootings.

Various operations have been taking place in the area by police and in the past week three people were caught and arrested for gun and ammunition possession – these cases aren’t linked to Mr Apollis’s case.

The station has had additional operational assistance.

“We’ve tripled our efforts and we follow up on all the information we receive and we have made arrests. We also have additional assistance from the Anti-Gang Unit (AGU) but we appeal to people to send us information that could lead to arrests.

“We can’t do it alone, we need the community’s help to point out the culprits or give information that could lead to apprehension,” Colonel Alexander added.

Mr Apollis’s janaaza was held on Saturday March 19 and car club German Freaks, of which he was a founding member, paid tribute to him at his home on Sunday March 20.

Anyone with information can contact Steenberg SAPS on 021 702 9000/ 0217029022 or Crime Stop on 08600 10111.

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