Prayer to quell violence

Cafda residents living in fear after several people were shot and killed in gang violence are hoping to take back their streets by hosting a prayer meeting.

Community worker Reverend André Rhode said the gang warhas been ongoing since last year.

Several alleged gangsters have been shot and injured and some killed in sporadic shooting incidents.

“Over the past two years there have been shootings in our area, in broad daylight and innocent bystanders have been shot and killed,” said Mr Rhode.

He referred to a recent incident in which a mother of three was caught in crossfire and killed in Blagden Avenue, a stone’s throw from her home, on September 26, at around 6.20pm.

Mary-Anne Hartnick was struck in the face by a bullet and died in Groote Schuur Hospital the following day.

In another incident, on Monday October 3, at about 6.30am, Jarrad Collins was shot and killed in the same road as Ms Hartnick.

Steenberg police spokesperson Warrant Officer John Bartlett could not confirm whether the 24-year-old man was part of a gang and his family said that he was not.

A resident, who wished to remain anonymous as she feared for her safety, said the situation was out of control.

“Every week someone is shot and some days, in broad daylight, gunshots can be heard. We fear for our children’s lives,” said the woman.

“Police have to patrol and be stationed at the shooting hotspots which include 12th Avenue, Blagden Avenue and Peter Charles Street,” she said.

Mr Rhode agreed.

“There isn’t a quick fix to the situation but I believe more active police patrols and the involvement of the community will help fight against the scourge in the area,” he said.

“The shootings started happening about two years ago but we want our communities back.

“Parents need to start taking responsibility and speaking up when their children are doing wrong.

“Neighbours are too scared to speak in fear of being targeted but in unity when we stand together we can start to make a change,” said Mr Rhode.

As a result of the shootings, spiritual leaders in the community are calling on residents to stand together and show unity at a prayer chain which will be formed in front of Douglas Murray Home for the Aged in Gordon Searle Street on Sunday October 9, at 4pm.

All residents are welcome to attend.

Warrant Officer Bartlett confirmed that there had been dozens of shootings in the Cafda area since the beginning of the year but could not tell Southern Mail exactly how many.

“We are not at liberty to divulge any statistics of crime or arrests made but can confirm that several suspects have been arrested for attempted murders and murders that occured in the area. Steenberg police with other Law Enforcement agencies have stepped up patrols and searches and daily operations are conducted to curb the scourge of violent crime in the Steenberg precinct,” said Warrant Officer Bartlett.

He further encouraged residents to report shootings and not to inspect or run towards crime scenes. “The perpetrators may still be on the scene and can start to shoot at those on the scene. Residents should also not tamper with evidence of a crime scene as it can be vital for the investigation,” he said.

Steenberg CPF chairperson Lucinda Evans expressed her condolences on behalf of the forum to the families of those killed in the shootings.

“We strongly condemn these shootings and we are appealing to anyone who has information to come forward. We are extremely concerned with some of the community reactions towards the law enforcement angencies. We encourage the community to report crimes but we find people picking up casings and then there is no evidence,” she said.

“We pray for peace for our area,” ended Mrs Evans. Anyone with information about the shooting can contact Steenberg police at 021 702 9000 or Crime Stop at 0860 010 111.