A gang turf war has claimed yet another innocent life in Ottery.
Sayed Johannes, 17, a well known soccer player was helping his mother home after collecting parcels the family received, when he was shot multiple times in Hector Avenue in front of his shocked mother.
Jasmine Johannes walked next to her son while he pushed his bike at about 6pm on Tuesday April 5 when a car slowly came up behind them.
The two gave way for the car to pass but Ms Johannes said the car then stopped, two men got out and fired one shot at Sayed.
Ms Johannes recalls her son taking the hoodie of his jacket off in an attempt to show the shooter who he was and that he was not a gangster: “He said ‘It’s me’ thinking that maybe they had a case of mistaken identity and I asked why he was shooting my son because he’s not a gangster.”
The distraught mother added that the gunmen fired shots down the road and one of them came back and shot Sayed in the head.
“I stood there totally paralysed and they continued shooting down the road, got into their car and drove off like nothing happened.”
Ms Johannes screamed for help as her son still had a pulse and stayed by his side even when shots were still being fired and people were running and trying to take cover.
Sayed was an up and coming soccer coach who had been recruited by We believe we can, an organisation his mother was part of, to train children from the community.
Founder Nadia Fakier said she chose Sayed to be part of the programme because he was a bright young man who would give up his time to do training at the nearby soccer pitch.
“He was not a gangster at all. He was active in our organisation and he started the soccer programme two months ago after we received a donation of soccer balls,” she said.
“He was so excited because we were in the process of planning a Youth Day even with the children who take part in the soccer training.”
Ottery resident Carmen Martin said Sayed’s death stirred up memories of her two sons’ death in 2012.
“Both my sons were still very young, They weren’t gangsters and they were gunned down. This is a deep hurt and it is affecting the whole community.
“We as parents try everything we can to raise our children in the right way and to protect them but our children’s lives are cut short, their dreams are cut because they are killed before their prime. This needs to stop. The community is hurting, the community is losing good children and people because of gangsters’ actions.”
A resident who wants to stay anonymous said Sayed might have been targeted because of a drug turf war between two rival gangs who live in what the community has named as Side A and side B.
“Sayed used to go to that side but everyone knew he wasn’t a gangster. We are losing innocent people because according to the gangsters people from side B cant go to side A and vice versa.”
The person said there had been threats circulating that anyone who crossed the border, the notorious Bruce Road field where the gangsters often clashed, would be a target.
Community worker Melanie Arendse said the rivalry had been going on between gangsters for years but said the communities had come together to put an end to the violence.
“If the gangsters want to shoot each other then they can go do it somewhere else but we as the community of Ottery, from all sides, do not want any part of this. Our community is crying and we’ve tried everything but these gangsters don’t have any regard for anybody’s life.”
A memorial service was held on Wednesday April 6 to commemorate Sayed but brazen gangsters started shooting close to where the service was held and attendees had to disperse.
Grassy Park station commander Colonel Dawood Laing confirmed a case of murder was being investigated. However, he said, they needed witnesses to come forward to identify the shooters.
“That is the only way we will be able to make arrests. If the shooters are not identified the shootings will continue.”
Asked what Grassy Park police had put in place to curb the violence, he said police had increased patrols in the area and were in Ottery when the shooting at the memorial service started. “We had officers out at the memorial service as well as the janazah on Thursday April 9. We also have the Anti Gang Unit (AGU) in the area.”
Colonel Laing confirmed that the current shooting was the result of a turf war between the two main gangs in the area who were trying to take charge in this small community.
Anyone with information can call the station on 021 700 3900/3902 or crime stop on 08600 10111.