Fear grips Tambo Village as bullets fly in gang war

Ten-year-old Sinawo Mani died after he was shot in the chest in front of his house, on the corner of Priscilla Ngeni and Chemist Mlungu streets, Tambo Village, Manenberg.

Residents of Manenberg’s Tambo Village are living in fear for their lives as a gang war cripples the community.

There has been a spike in shootings in the past three weeks in the ongoing feuding between the rival Ghettos and Terrible Josters, says Manenberg police station commander Brigadier Sanele Zama.

Police say the Terrible Josters shot at an Andile Jacobs Street shack, in the early hours of Friday October 1, killing a 28-year-old woman believed to have affiliation to the Ghettos.

Police arrested two men, aged 32 and 34, who appeared in Athlone Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday October 5, charged with murder.

On Saturday October 2, at 10am, a10-year-old boy was killed by a stray bullet in a gang-related shooting.

Police say Sinawo Mani was shot in the chest in front of his house, on the corner of Priscilla Ngeni and Chemist Mlungu streets. He died on the way to hospital.

A 14-year-old boy and a 34-year-old man arrested in connection with Sinawo’s killing appeared in the Athlone Magistrate’s Court on Friday October 8, charged with murder.

On Saturday October 2, at 8.30am, a man walking in Andile Jacobs Street was shot several times in a drive-by shooting, say police. Witnesses told police five men opened fire at him from a charcoal-coloured Polo Vivo. Most of the wounds were to the man’s chest and he died later in Groote Schuur Hospital, said Brigadier Zama.

Later that day, police arrested a man they believe drove the vehicle, and the following day, they arrested three of the alleged shooters. All four appeared in the Athlone Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday October 5. The case was postponed to Thursday October 14. Police are still looking for a fifth suspect.

On Sunday October 3, police say, two men fired shots at a group of children, wounding a 13-year-old, who was shot twice in his stomach and once in each leg, and a 17-year-old, who was shot in his right leg. Police believe the shooting is gang-related. Suspects, aged 32 and 34, appeared in the Athlone Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday October 5. The case was postponed to Wednesday October 13.

Police arrested the alleged leader of the Terrible Josters on Monday October 4 on a charge relating to the illegal possession of two 9mm guns. He appeared in the Athlone Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday October 5. The case was postponed to Wednesday October 13, and, according to Brigadier Zama, the alleged gang boss was remanded in custody at Pollsmoor prison.

“The current fight goes about drug turf and the Terrible Josters want to expand their drug turf over the whole Tambo Village area,” said Brigadier Zama.

SAPS reinforcements had been deployed, along with Metro Police and City Law Enforcement, and there were daily vehicle patrols, he said.

“We continue our crime-prevention operations in the area by raiding homes for drugs and guns.

The community is gripped by fear and many are too afraid to walk to the shops, according to Roegchanda Pascoe.

Mothers of gangsters covered up for their sons because they relied on their illicit earnings to get by, she said.

“Covid has worsened the already tough situation for many families. These parents are being sustained with gang money that buys them food, pays their bills and sees to their needs, so the mothers are justifying their kids’ actions.”

Those refusing to join the gangs lived in fear for their lives, she said.

“The gangs are fearless. They don’t care who gets hurt in the process. They do as they wish and no-one can stop them.”

Craven Engel is the chairman of the Cease Fire Cure Violence non-profit company in Hanover Park. It tries to stop families breaking apart and it helps at-risk youths. He said communities had long claimed that gangs looked after their families, and young children had been easy targets for gangs to recruit for ten years already.

Many parents had been lost to Covid-19 and their children were vulnerable to gang recruitment, especially when they weren’t always in school due to classes being held in shifts.

“Yes it is the parents’ responsibility to take care of their kids, but if we look at the condition these parents find themselves in, it is sad, and it makes you understand why their children are so vulnerable to gang recruitment. These families are struggling, the children are falling through the cracks and that is why our aim is to identify vulnerable families heading for a breakdown before their children become vulnerable,” he said.

The bullet holes in the shack where a 28-year-old woman was killed in Andile Jacobs Street, Tambo Village Manenberg.