Bokmakierie on tenterhooks

NABEELAH MOHEDEEN

About 100 people marched through Bokmakierie on Sunday hoping to retain peace in the area after a six-year-old girl from Kewtown was shot in front of her grandmother’s house in 9th avenue on Monday May 2.

The Grade 1 pupil at Garlandale Primary School, Saadiqah Lippert, was getting ready to go home after spending the weekend at her grandmother, Kamiela Lippert’s house.

It was around 7pm, when Saadiqah and her cousin were waiting outside for their grandmother to take them home to Saadiqah’s mother’s home in Kewtown when 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.

Wayland Botha, aged 22, and Samier Slamang, aged 27, both from Athlone, were arrested on Tuesday May 3, on a charge of murder and appeared in the Athlone Magistrate’s Court last Thursday.

Before their appearance, however, police had received a threat on the lives of the suspects, so the court room was cleared as a precaution, with only Saadiqah’s parents,

the media, and SAPS officials allowed to remain in the court room.

The tactical response unit remained in the court room for the duration of the two’s appearance, and afterward escorted them out of the building. The case was postponed until tomorrow, Thursday May 12 and Mr Botha and Mr Slamang are being held at Pollsmoor prison.

It was fears of retaliation by rival gang members which sparked Sunday’s march.

With the area still tense in the wake of the shooting, the aim of the march was to keep the peace.

Athlone Community Police Forum chair Aziza Kannemeyer said the shooting is alleged to have been the result of a disagreement between two groups competing for drug turf.

“The area remains tense because of the shooting of this young girl. Residents are confused because there had been no shooting since October last year when the Hard Livings and G-Unit came to a peace agreement,” said Ms Kannemeyer.

“The community suspects that there will be a retaliation and that is what they fear. The people saw the gunmen and told the police – and that led to the speedy arrest,” she added.

Family friend Rashieda Klassien, said she was devastated about Saadiqah’s death.

“I looked after her as a baby for two to three years when her mother went out to work. I called her Teddy bear because she was so loving. Whenever she saw me in the road, she would hug me and talk to me. Her parents are devastated, she is so young,” said Ms Klassien.

She added that she did not believe the shooting to be gang-related because their had been no gang violence in the area since last year.

Ms Lippert described her granddaughter as a very happy and friendly child who loved her teachers and friends.

The distraught grandma, who said she wanted justice for her grandchild, told Athlone News what happened on the day of the shooting.

“She and her cousin were waiting for me outside to take them home. I thought it was firecrackers going off. I went outside and saw her lying there. She said ‘Ma, I can’t get up’ and that’s when I realised she was shot,” she said.

“This happened right in front of my house. She was an innocent girl why did they shoot her? They also have children. She was a child. One of the neighbours immediately stopped her father and told him not to go inside because his child was lying on the ground and had been shot and that he needed to take her to the hospital,” Ms Klassien added.

Angelique Jordaan, spokesperson for Red Cross Hospital, said since January seven children had been brought into the hospital with gunshot wounds. “Western Cape Government Health would like to express our sincere and deepest condolences to the family at this very sad time,” she added.

Saadiqah’s peers at Garlendale Primary School, made cards for her family and together with the principal took it to the family last Wednesday.

Principal Reza Abader said that the pupils were subjected to a lot of violence in the area.

“We are absolutely shocked about the death of our pupil. The education department will be providing counselling for her peers and teachers. Her peers are traumatised about the incident,” said Mr Abader.

Anyone with information that can assist the investigation is requested to contact crime stop on 08600 10111.