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Where there's smoke, there's (gun) fire

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Where there's smoke, there's (gun) fire

by Laverne de Vries
23 Jan 2007
Peoples Post
Peoples Post

I've always known that smoking might kill me. But I've always envisaged a slow and steady demise by a brutal form of lung cancer, not a quick gunshot wound to the head or heart failure caused by intense fear.


Which is what almost happened to me the other day in Hanover Park.

Last week, while waiting for an interviewee to arrive, I quickly nipped outside and had a smoke break.

Through a haze of smoke I heard loud noises, followed by a red bakkie that came skidding off at high speed near a gravel patch in Cascade Court.

My initial thought was that the bakkie has backfired but, as it approached, I realised that gunshots were coming from the bakkie and that it was steadily approaching the flats I was standing on front of.

After a somewhat delayed reaction, my brain kicked in and I ran inside the house with the owners following suit. I then went into a back room (police always warn about stray bullets entering windows) and immediately called the police.

While waiting for them to arrive, the commotion next door to us peaked and as more shots were fired (in total there could have been about ten), the house owner's little boy started crying.

When the police arrived minutes later, I plucked up the courage to meet them outside to assure them I was okay.

Despite my erratic heartbeat and the fact that my knees were like jelly, I knew that I had a job to do and dutifully followed them to solicit statements.

Not surprisingly, none of the residents were willing to say anything. According to the officers I spoke to, some residents fear for their lives while others prefer to take the law into their own hands.

Despite the fear, which I now experienced first hand, I wonder how they can keep mum. Their silence could result in another innocent life being taken.

From what I could gather, the red bakkie belonged to the Bokkies gang who were attacking the Americans. Apparently they were aiming for a boy who came from the house next door and who had fled on a bicycle.

After discarding it the boy ran into a house, which was also a game shop, and the red bakkie's occupants continued shooting at the house in broad daylight.

The shooting follows the death of a 17-year-old boy, also in Cascade Court, last week.

After checking that all the residents were unharmed, I hopped in with the police to look for possible suspects and to verify claims that someone had been shot.

Fortunately, on that day, everyone was safe. But on many others, innocent people are maimed, injured and killed. And this is the norm for many in Hanover Park.

I've prided myself on always trying to relate people's concerns and fears but nothing comes close to the actual experience of your heart pumping so fast you think it might pop out, the chaos of people scattering in all directions and the cries of innocent babes as they try to comprehend the brutality of life.

I've also discovered a new-found respect for our police officers who put their lives in danger every day they come to work. In addition to dealing with the ugliest of crimes against humanity (this includes murder, rape, assault and other horrendous things we infict upon each other), they also have to maintain their sanity under immense pressure.

No easy task I assure you.

And although many journalists would love to undergo such a sensational experience with the possibility of a great story, this journalist would like nothing more than a return to humanity, where people can feel safe in their own homes, where children can play in the streets without getting injured and smokers can enjoy a cigarette in peace.

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