A day after the end of the 16 Days of Activism for no Violence Against Women and Children Campaign, 11-year-old Rimeez Caetano’s life was snuffed out when he got caught in the crossfire between G-Unit and Hard Livings gangs.
Rimeez was shot and killed on Sunday December 11, after 11am, while playing soccer with his friends in front of his grandmother’s house in 8th Avenue, Bokmakierie.
According to Rimeez’s friends, who were playing soccer with him, they heard gunshots before one of his friends, who was standing in front of him, noticed that Rimeez had been shot.
As the friends ran for cover in Rimeez’s grandmother’s house, the boy followed, but collapsed in the passage and later died on his way to Groote Schuur Hospital.
The Hazendal Primary School pupil was laid to rest on Monday December 12, in accordance with Muslim rites.
Athlone police spokeswoman Sergeant Zita Norman said the G-Unit had been shooting from Bokmakierie Street and in 8th Avenue against the Hard Livings gang when Rimeez was hit.
“An 11-year-old boy who was playing soccer in the road was shot in the left side of his chest which resulted in the bullet coming out of his abdomen.
“The boy was then rushed to Groote Schuur Hospital and later passed away,” said Sergeant Norman.
No arrests have been made.
According to Athlone Community Police Forum chairperson Aziza Kannemeyer, gunshots were heard in the area between 2am and 6.30am on Sunday, between 8th and 11th Avenue and in Bokmakierie Street.
Ms Kannemeyer said that about 40 to 50 shots must have gone off during that time. She said after 11am another six to eight gunshots went off and another 20 gunshots at 4.15pm.
In total, said Ms Kannemeyer, between Monday December 5 and Sunday December 11, more than 140 gunshots were heard in the area.
Warren Rossiter, principal of Hazendal Primary School, said that Rimeez’s death was a sad start to the festive season and would result in a sad start to the new school year as well.
“Rimeez was a quiet, child, a good pupil, and very co-operative. He received an award this year for his improvement in mathematics.
“Such things don’t happen often, so when it does, it is a huge shock to us. This is an indication that we need better police services because this was really preventable. It is really tragic because he deserved this holiday to relax and have fun,” said Mr Rossiter.
Nicole Williams, a member of the Bokmakierie/Athlone Walking Bus said Rimeez was one of her favourite pupils.
She said he had joined the Walking Bus in September and had proved to be a very respectful, punctual young boy, who loved going to school and always wanted to set an example and be a prefect when he reached Grade 7.
Rimeez’s grandmother Janap Ismail described him as a very good child who lived for sport, mosque, and school.
“He was a lovely child. He had a such a nice report, and was going to Grade 7 next year. He wasn’t involved in any gang, he was still young. He was very talkative and friendly, many people loved him because of his ways,” said Ms Ismail.
Christina Leffule, who also lives in 8th Avenue, has been a resident of Bokmakierie for 49 years. She said living in the area had become a danger to her and her children. Ms Leffule, who has 12 children from the neighbourhood staying with her, said the children know that they must run inside when they hear gunshots.
“If I could get another house I would move; it is not safe for the children. When the gunshots go off, they run inside, usually to the middle of the house.
“In this year my house has been shot at three for four times. Last year in September the gangs made peace and everything was peaceful and all of a sudden one of the HLs came and asked if he can sit with my son who isn’t a gangster. So rumour got out the HLs hang out at this house and that is when they started shooting at my house. My roof and walls are full of gunshots,” said Ms Leffule.
“When I call the police the first thing they ask me is if I am a HL. You don’t have to be a HL to get shot at, it’s not right. Like that child was killed and he isn’t an HL, he is innocent.
“He was such as pleasant child who loved playing soccer. I don’t know what the solution is. I am worried about our safety, I don’t know why they keep shooting at my house,” she added.
Rimeez was an avid soccer player who played for FC Kapstadt’s under-12 team and had been part of the development programme for underprivileged youth since the beginning of the year. The team competed in the Cape Town Tygerberg Football Association’s Under-12 Super-League Division, playing against clubs like Ajax CT, Hellenic, Old Mutual Academy and Vasco Da Gama. He last represented FC Kapstadt at the 2016 Kapstadt CUP at Hartleyvale in October.
Zaid Omar, president of the football club said Rimeez had been kept home by his mother earlier this year due to the crossfire in Bokmakierie.
“Rimeez will be remembered as a kind-hearted and well mannered boy. FC Kapstadt condemns the senseless act of murder of an innocent child. Rimeez is the second child from Bokmakierie who has lost their life during crossfire this year,” said Mr Omar.
“FC Kapstadt would like to express our deepest condolences to the Ismail family,” he added.
Ward 49 councillor Rashid Adams said that the death of young children had become commonplace as a result of gang crossfire. He believed that people knew exactly who the perpetrators were yet did not come forward.
“We have parents who are involved with gangsterism and drugs and keep their children locked up all day, which is also wrong. We need to work as a community and stop blaming other entities such as the government,” said Mr Adams.
Now, he added, there is also fear that there will be a retaliation shooting in the area.
Athlone News recently reported on the death of 18-year-old Dylan Pelton who was shot and killed on Friday December 2 while walking with a friend in Jakkalsvlei Avenue in Bonteheuwel (“Matric shot dead”, Athlone News, December 7). Dylan too, had been an avid soccer player who joined Bluegum United Football Club in January this year and had been presented with the youth player of the year award earlier this month. He played in the premier division and also represented the team in the Metropolitan under-17 board team.
We also reported on the death of six-year-old Saadiqah Lippert, who was shot and killed in front of her grandmother’s house in 9th Avenue Bokmakierie, on Monday May 2 (“Bokmakierie on tenterhooks”, Athlone News, May 11.) The Grade 1 pupil at Garlandale Primary School, had been getting ready to go home after spending the weekend at her grandmother, Kamiela Lippert’s housewhen unknown men ran by and opened fire, shooting the little girl in her stomach.
Saadiqah was rushed to Groote Schuur Hospital where doctors worked hard to save the little girl. She was put on life support after a few hours but died during the early hours of the next morning.