The residents of Bonteheuwel remain angry and frustrated after another young life was lost due to gang violence.
The 18-year-old Dylan Pelton was a Grade 11 pupil at Modderdam High School. He was informed that he had progressed to Grade 12 just hours before the shooting.
Dylan’s death takes the number of youth who have been killed as a result of gang violence in Bonteheuwel, since January, to six.
Captain Marie Louw of Bonteheuwel police station confirmed the shooting but said no suspects had been arrested and the motive for the killing was unknown.
After Dylan failed Grade 11 last year, he promised his mother that he would go back to school and pass Grade 11, which he did.
On Friday December 2, at 3pm, while walking with a friend in Jakkalsvlei Avenue in Bonteheuwel, he was shot in his back according to Angus Mckenzie, the area’s ward councillor.
The shooter then came around and shot him in his face, throat and shoulder.
One of the neighbours who witnessed the shooting called Dylan’s friend who was with him to take shelter in his home. Mr Mckenzie said the police and ambulance came shortly after the shooting and took Dylan’s body away.
He said that Dylan’s parents have stressed that their son was not a gang member and that he was an avid soccer player. He joined the Bluegum United Football Club in January this year and was awarded as youth player of the year earlier this month. He played in the premier division and also represented the team in the Metropolitan under-17 board team.
Lindsay Davids, chairperson of the football club, described Dylan as a quiet boy who only spoke when he greeted. “He would just speak when he came and said hello Uncle Lindsay and when he said goodbye after a game. He was also very friendly but quiet at the same time and he knew his limits. He never missed a game and would always call if he was going to be late. He was a very respectful boy and we will miss him a lot,” said Mr Davids.
The Athlone News visited Dylan’s house on Monday December 5, but learnt from a neighbour that the family was not home and had left the house early that morning already.
A resident Sally Bezuidenhout, 80, remembered Dylan as a very quiet and respectful boy “who never walked by without greeting”. “He never fought with anyone; he was a sweet child who was very fond of girls and the girls were fond of him. I never saw him with a gang. He always walked with a girl or with his brothers. I always saw him walking to school and back. He was a very nice child with nice manners and he never back-chatted.”
Mr Mckenzie said while Dylan might not have been involved in a gang, he lives in a gang-infested area which is controlled by the Bad Boys gang.
“The shooting happened in broad daylight so someone must have seen who shot him. Anyone with information must come forward and they will be protected,” said Mr Mckenzie.
On Sunday December 4, the community of Bonteheuwel held a vigil and walk in the area to highlight the killing of the teen.
Mr Mckenzie said the community is angry and frustrated with the culture that has developed in Bonteheuwel. “There is no respect anymore and a lot of unlawful things are happening here which is a foreign culture to Bonteheuwel. The only way to get things back to normal is if we stand together. As parents we need to admit when are children are doing wrong things, half of the community agrees with that and the other half say no they must protect their kids,” he said.
He said the community of Bonteheuwel needs to face the problem head-on and they must realise that the absenteeism of fathers, the increasing gang violence, abuse, and crime are all contributing factors to the death of young people in the area.
“We are heading into the festive season now but for many families this will be more sorrow than joy. We need to be vigilant so that it can be a joyous festive for everyone,” he added.
Rona Rayray, principal of Modderdam High School, said Dylan was an influential soccer player in Modderdam’s school team who represented the school in the Kay Motsepe Schools Tournament in Mossel Bay earlier this year.
She said that Dylan was a boy who presented qualities of persistence and determination. “The school community is shocked at his senseless death. Although playful, he seemed to have known his abilities and capabilities and did just enough not to offend and not to show disrespect to educators. Although mischievous at times, he was mature enough to admit his faults or wrongdoing. Everything said, Dylan’s biggest asset was his youthful smiley face, which we will never forget,” said Ms Rayray.
She said the Modderdam staff want Dylan’s futile death to serve as a wake-up call for all those youngsters involved in gangsterism and drug-related activities.
“We as a community cannot afford to lose our youngsters through gun or any other type of violence. For far too long this community has suffered senseless deaths of youth in the prime of their lives. Like Dylan, we need to distance ourselves from any form of gangster and drug activities. We send our condolences to his parents and brothers who also attend our school as well as to his entire family. He will be sorely missed by us,” Ms Rayray said.