Police have arrested a man after a four-year-old girl was partially blinded in a Hanover Park gang shooting.
Chloe van der Westhuizen was playing outside her Algoa Court home at 5.30pm on Thursday March 25 when she was caught in the crossfire between feuding gangsters.
Members of the Ghettos gang were shooting at a 26-year-old Americans gangster, according to Yaseen Johaar, from the Hanover Park Community Police Forum (CPF).
But it was Chloe who took a bullet to the head.
She was rushed to Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital where she remains sedated and in a stable condition, according to the hospital’s spokesman, Byron La Hoe.
During the shooting, a 15-year-old girl was also shot in her left foot, two women, aged 29 and 35, were shot in their left legs, and a 26-year-old man was shot in his left foot. All victims were taken to hospital, and their conditions are listed as stable.
Chloe has lost the sight in her left eye, according to Philippi police spokesman Captain Lance Goliath.
Police arrested a 20-year-old Hanover Park man on Friday March 26 on charges of attempted murder.
Captain Goliath said patrols had been stepped up in the area and police were looking for the gun used in the shooting.
Mr Johaar said the Americans and Ghettos had been locked in a war for two years. The CPF met on Friday March 26 to discuss a way forward.
“Not a day goes by where there are no shootings,” he said. “One month, we were lucky and there was no shooting for five days. Enough is enough and we are fed up now. We are trying to see what we can do as a CPF to combat this.”
Clinical psychologist Carin Lee Masters said children exposed to trauma could often “act out” the violence they repeatedly witnessed as a coping mechanism. Parents should try to shield them from the violence and show them the good in life, she said.
“Also parents can read to them, take them to libraries and ask them about what they want for their futures… this will allow them to dream/imagine a reality outside of this negative environment.”
She added: “If the child grows up in a secure and loving home environment, where they see their parents as positive role models, including mostly lovingly engaging with each other and their children, studying, working, playing sport, and the like, they will be less susceptible to outside negative influences.”
Children who did not get help to cope with trauma could suffer from, among other things, night terrors and sleeping problems, moderate to severe anxiety, eating problems and flashbacks.
Anyone with information can call detective Sergeant Umir Salie at 071 300 3511 or the Anti Gang Unit hotline at 0800 664264.