Volunteer dies in crossfire

Ameerodien Noordien was shot dead in gang crossfire

A volunteer of humanitarian organisation Gift of the Givers became one of the latest victims in the ongoing gang violence in Hanover Park when he was killed in crossfire.

Ameerodien Noordien, 20, was shot and killed in Surwood Walk on Friday October 5. His death affected the founder of Gift of the Givers, Imtiaz Sooliman so much, that it led him to write an open letter to Police Minister Bheki Cele.

Ameerodien was laid to rest according to Muslim rites on Monday October 8, and Mr Cele was among those who attended.

In his letter, Mr Sooliman wrote: “Ameerodien wanted out of poverty in a dignified way, no drugs, no gangsterism, no violence – only honesty, integrity, hard sweat and lawful earnings to take care of his family. His mother, Fatima, wanted to see the development of a righteous child, on the straight path, an asset to society.”

He goes on to describe how Ameerodien came into contact with Ali Sablay, a project manager for Gift of the Givers. The organisation needed volunteers, Mr Sooliman said, but hires temporary staff, as many of the volunteers come from impoverished backgrounds.

“This opened an opportunity for youth like Ameerodien to earn an income, serve society, gain experience and learn skills.

“That opportunity was violently terminated – three bullets in the back, one in the head, caught in the crossfire of those who act with impunity, who respect neither law, nor human value, no the sanctity of life and get away time and time again.”

“Innocent Ameerodien was killed. Decency, hope, aspiration, youth and vibrancy died at the hands of arrogance,” Mr Sooliman’s emotive letter read.

He called on Mr Cele’s urgent intervention to stem the tide on crime, for community and religious leaders, parents and business people to “work harder” as a collective to impart values to guide young people away from “the path of self-destruction”.

“How many more innocent deaths will it take? How many more young children must die violently and tragically? How many more parents and siblings must suffer anguish before we act decisively as a nation to stem the endemic community disorder of gangsterism, drugs and violence. It is time for gangsters to sit back, reflect and ponder that the havoc, pandemonium, pain and suffering that they wreak. Will it ever bring serenity to their own souls? Reformation has to come from within. It has been done many times before and it certainly can be done today.”

Gang violence also rocked communities across the greater Athlone area over the past week.

In Bonteheuwel, a 41-year-old man was shot dead while sitting in his car near Checkout supermarket in Jakkalsvlei Avenue, on Thursday October 4.

Within minutes after the shooting, a 24-year-old man was arrested.

Manenberg was also hit by a series of shootings, which included a five-year-old being injured in the crossfire on Saturday September 29.

According to Manenberg SAPS spokesperson, Captain Ian Bennett, a 41-year-old man, alleged to be a gang member, was wounded when he was shot twice in the side by an unknown shooter. A five-year-old boy was also caught in the crossfire and injured in his right foot in Badsberg Road, Heideveld.

On the same day ,a 34-year-old man was shot in the face while standing in Elsa Court, Manenberg. It is unknown if he was caught in gang crossfire and if he was a member of any gang. The suspects fled the scene on foot and no arrests have been made.

Also on Saturday September 29, an 18-year-old man was stabbed on the corner of Gonubie Street and Arries Road and succumbed to his injuries at the Heideveld Emergency Centre. The suspects fled the scene on foot and no arrests have been made.

On the same day, a 53-year-old man was injured in his right leg after he was shot while standing in Towerkop RoadThe suspects fled the scene on foot and no arrests have been made.

Meanwhile, the Western Cape Communities Total Shutdown representatives had a follow-up meeting with Mr Cele, National Police Commissioner General Khehla Sithole, and the Western Cape SAPS management, on Tuesday October 2 in Kensington.

The meeting discussed the movement’s demands put to the Mr Cele at their first meeting in Bonteheuwel on Wednesday September 26.

A statement from the Total Shutdown movement said they have made significant gains within a week of their community action on Tuesday September 25, “which enabled us to plan for both short, medium and long term on issues of crime, violence, poverty, unemployment, inequality and racism”.

Among their demands include the immediate deployment of resources, like visible policing, patrols at hot spots, continuous raids, declaring certain areas with high crime and violence rates as disaster areas, the deployment of extra detective services, resourcing police stations sufficiently and building new police stations in high density and high crime areas.

At this meeting, General Sithole presented a SAPS intervention plan, which includes the extension of Operation Thunder, identifying hot spots, upgrading some police stations, establishing a gang combat and prevention unit by the end of October 2018, bringing in national dedicated resources to the Western Cape which will be focused on hot spots, implementing a normalisation plan which will be community driven, and rolling out the Bambanani project later this year. The National Commissioner also added that an extra 30 detectives will be deployed by the end of October to assist with the backlog of cases and speed up the finalisation of current and future cases.

The movement also demanded a community safety plan, which will focus on dispute resolution, crime, violence, abuse, safety and environmental design. They have also called on an inter-ministerial task team to be set up to address the socio-economic issues, and a national working class summit, which they hope will develop the blueprint for the inter-ministerial task team.

Nadia Mayman De Grass, one of the Shutdown movement’s Bonteheuwel representatives, said they are now waiting on Mr Cele to give timelines on when all the demands from them will be implemented.