Youth killed, families terrorised

Andrew Molefe

Andrew Molefe

For a few luckless families in Braamfischerville, Soweto, Tuesday was a night of the long knives and big blazing guns.

An orgy of violent robbery and blood-letting dragged on until the crack of dawn yesterday morning, leaving one person dead, another seriously injured while scores of belongings were taken by the force of guns.

The reign of terror started at midnight in this sprawling settlement west of Dobsonville when a brazen gang of at least four thugs first kicked open the rickety door of a back yard hair salon housed in a shack behind an unnumbered house on a nondescript street with no name.

Inside the shack they found a young man, believed to be a Mozambican.

The gang pumped bullets into his body, killing him instantly.

Like the house and the street he lived in, the young man was nameless. The neighbours don't know his name and could only guess that he was a foreigner because of his accent.

"He was an innocent-looking young boy," said one. "He couldn't have been more than 15, 16 at the most," said a neighbour who refused to be identified.

She said the murdered youngster used to play with her 13-year-old son.

The mysterious young man apparently moved into the area a few weeks ago and rented the one-roomed outbuilding, where he lived and ran his hair salon.

The owners of the main house, a two-roomed RDP home, moved out a while back. The house was uninhabited at the time of the shooting.

Sowetan photographer Mohau Mofokeng was the first journalist on the scene shortly after 1am. He found the boy's body in a pool of blood on the floor of his shack.

Neighbours who had heard the fusillade of shots congregated in the yard in shock.

With murder in their hearts, the killers sauntered a short distance to the adjoining street. They walked into a poverty-stricken house whose only breadwinner is 78-year-old pensioner Dorah Kembo.

They used a crowbar to break the lock on the steel door and ordered the family to kneel.

Between sobs, the traumatised Granny Kembo told Sowetan that a gang of three young men threatened them with guns before snatching her granddaughter's mobile phone from its charger and left.

The cellphone was probably the only item of value in the two-roomed house. None of the granny's three grandchildren is employed. The family survives on her monthly pension.

The robbers took the cellphone, which was given to her 18-year-old granddaughter Lerato by her mother Veronica shortly before she died last year.

Veronica is one of Granny Kembo's six children. The pensioner left her home in Meadowlands and moved to Braamfischerville to look after her daughter's children.

The thugs' next call was Simon Ntate Kgaswane's house where they kicked open the door of his RDP home. He tried to fight the attackers off but was shot in the head and feet.

In the morning, the signs of struggle were everywhere. Eight hours after they forced their way into his home, dried blood stains where still visible on the kitchen floor, the doorsteps and new suede dining-room suite.

Fortunately, Kgaswane, a native of Tlokweng village near Rustenburg, was home alone because his wife was visiting relatives.

The critically injured man was taken to nearby Leratong Hospital.

Police spokesman Philemon Khorombi said they had opened two cases of house-breaking, one of murder, and another one of housebreaking and attempted murder.

No arrests had yet been made at the time of going to press.