Mother’s Day murders leave families broken

LILLIAN AMOS

A gang turf war left three children without a mother on the eve of Mother’s Day and two other people injured over the weekend.

The family of Nicolette Serengie is traumatised after the 30-year-old woman was shot dead just a stone’s throw from her Constitutional Court home in Lavender Hill.

At about 9.20pm on Saturday May 7, Nicolette was returning from a shop in Welton Road with her three-year-old daughter in her arms after buying a packet of chips.

According to Steenberg police, a car pulled up and unknown gunmen opened fire on Nicolette.

Nicolette ran to a nearby house in Welton Road and banged on the door for help but collapsed soon after and died.

She had a gunshot wound to her face but fortunately, the three year old was unharmed.

A case of murder is being investigated and the motive for the killing is still not known.

Nicolette’s mother Brenda Serengie was in shock when Southern Mail visited the family home. Nicolette was one of her four daughters.

“My husband and I were sleeping when we heard the gunshots. I still asked him if he heard the shots. It wasn’t long before someone came knocking at the door telling me that Nicolette had been shot.”

I ran to where she was but when I got there she was already dead,” said Ms Serengie.

The grandmother has been unable to sleep since the shooting.

“I can’t stop thinking about her lying there dead. I don’t understand why they shot her. She wasn’t a bad person and she always helped anyone when she could,” said an emotional Ms Serengie.

Edward Simons, Nicolette’s stepfather, said the shootings in the area are affecting their health.

“There are shootings here daily. Day and night at all times and we have to lay flat on the floor everyday. Both my wife and I are epileptic and these shootings cause so much anxiety that we often go into fits because of it,” said Mr Simons.

He added that there will never be a positive change in Lavender Hill if residents don’t stand together.

Community worker Clive Jacobs agreed.

“At this point we need stability in our community. The people are traumatised because of all the shootings. We are not free to walk out of our doors because we never know when the next shot will go off. We are prisoners in our own homes” said Mr Jacobs.

“There’s a divide within the community because many people want the violence to stop but then there are other people who stand by the gangsters,” he said.

Lucinda Evans, who is the Steenberg CPF chairperson and founder of women and children’s rights organisation ,Philisa Abafazi Bethu, said she was angered and sad about the incident.

“The value of women’s lives in this community and this country means absolutely nothing. There was a loss of not only a woman, but a mother’s life. Those children needed their mother but they will have to live the rest of their lives without her,” said Ms Evans.

“As CPF chairperson, I am angry that we have these people just taking other people’s lives like it’s nothing and I am angry that the community doesn’t want to come forward with information that will help solve these crimes. On the one hand, the community want help, but on the other hand, they are not willing to help,” she said.

Philisa Abafazi Bethu is providing trauma counselling to the family as well as the family who live at the premises where Nicolette died.

Steenberg police’s Warrant Officer John Bartlett confirmed that there were two other shootings on the same evening.

Also at about 9.20pm, 32 year-old man Riaan Hendricks was shot in Depsiton Crescent. He was treated on the scene and taken to Victoria hospital for further medical treatment. According to bystanders, a grey vehicle drove slowly down the street and fired several shots, said Warrant Officer Bartlett.

In another incident, a 32-year-old woman was shot in the stomach at Stone Court. She was taken to Groote Schuur hospital for medical treatment. The motive for the shootingsare still unknown.

Anyone with information can call Steenberg police station at 021 702 9000 or Crime Stop at 08600 10111.

All information will be treated as confidential.

Nicolette’s funeral will be held on Saturday.