Two Hanover Park men appeared in the Wynberg Magistrate's Court yesterday on a charge of murder and attempted murder following the death of a teenager over the weekend. According to provincial police spokesperson Captain Randall Stoffels, 17-year-old Samier Valentine was shot in Lonston Road on Saturday, 10 February at about 17:30 while walking with a friend.
"It is alleged that three male occupants of a grey VW Golf stopped next to them and fired several shots while they were on foot. The deceased sustained a bullet wound to his right upper leg and both arms, as well as in his right eye, and died on the scene," says Stoffels.
Detectives from Philippi Police followed up information which led to the arrest of two suspects, aged 31 and 32, says Stoffels.
Although daily newspapers said the family denied claims that the incident was gang-related, police sources differ. "It is believed that the incident is gang-related, but we are investigating all possibilities," says Stoffels.
The shooting comes just days after the Community Policing Forum (CPF) made attempts to broker peace between gangsters in Hanover Park.
On Thursday, 8 February, members of the CPF met with about 20 members of the Americans gang at the Edith Stephens Wetlands to talk about restoring peace. Gang-related violence in the Hanover Park area has led to the murder of a number of people and many others have been left injured and traumatised.
According to a source, who declined to be named, everyone at the meeting was searched before they were allowed into the venue.
"The CPF decided to call the meeting because too many people have been affected by the violence. They also only focused on the Americans because the shootings over the last two weeks were believed to be Americans shooting at Americans."
Once there, the Americans disclosed that a fraction group from Kensington had apparently been brought in to eliminate Hanover Park-based Americans.
The Hanover Park-based gangsters then asked the Kensington batch of Americans to leave the meeting.
"They then spoke and said they would also like peace. They agreed to a tentative peace agreement with the CPF by which they would stop shooting at each other," said the source.
The source added that, although the peace process was in its infancy, the CPF is also hoping to approach members of the Laughing Boys and the Ghetto Kids gangs to enlist their help in curbing the violence.
"Too many of our people have been hurt and killed and, even though they are gangsters, they are part of our community and they can ensure that the community becomes safer for all," says the source.
According to a police source at Philippi Police station, however, the gangs will not stop fighting until leadership has been finalised.
"There has been a lot of infighting in the Americans since the murder of Gavin Atkins last year and we believe it's not only about power, but also about drug turf. Whoever has the power controls the drug turf," says a police official who declined to be named.
The Philippi Police say a weekend raid that saw the confiscation of four illegal firearms and 178 rounds of ammunition is proof that they will be stepping up crime prevention operations in the area.
A 32-year-old man from Sundown Walk was arrested in connection with the incident on Sunday, 11 February. A small amount of drugs was also found.
The man will appear in court soon.