A day of anger in Parow as communities protest 8-year-old Tazne's killing

The parents of the 8-year-old murdered Elsies River girl Tazne van Wyk, Terence Manuel and Carmen van Wyk, wait in the crowded courtroom for the man who allegedly murdered their child to appear.
The parents of the 8-year-old murdered Elsies River girl Tazne van Wyk, Terence Manuel and Carmen van Wyk, wait in the crowded courtroom for the man who allegedly murdered their child to appear.
Image: Esa Alexander

The fury caused by the murder of 8-year-old Tazne van Wyk burst from the Goodwood magistrate's court onto the streets of Parow and Goodwood on Friday.

Four suspected drug dens were set on fire by protesters, who claimed that Van Wyk was taken to a drug house in Parow before she was murdered.

Moydine Pangaker — the man accused of the murder —  managed to dodge a plastic bottle and the fists of community members as he was taken down to the court's holding cells.

Pangaker was arrested in Cradock in the Eastern Cape more than a week after Van Wyk went missing while walking to the tuck shop near her home in Conought Estate in Elsies River.

He allegedly took police to Worcester and pointed out the scene where Van Wyk’s body was found in a stormwater drain.

Courtroom C was packed beyond capacity by community members who stormed the court building on Friday morning before being allowed into the courtroom by reluctant and wary court officials who were hopelessly outnumbered.

Protesters attempt to enter Goodwood Magistrates Court where Moydine Pangarker was about to appear for allegedly murdering Tazne van Wyk.
Protesters attempt to enter Goodwood Magistrates Court where Moydine Pangarker was about to appear for allegedly murdering Tazne van Wyk.
Image: Esa Alexander

Too few of the people were searched for dangerous weapons, a court official told the protesters. But the situation was not in the hands of any government authority any more —  the people wanted to see Pangaker.

When the magistrate eventually called him from his holding cells the court was quiet for the first time.

Cape Town advocate Bruce Hendricks, hired by the Social Justice Coalition to conduct a watching brief, remarked that his work was made redundant, it would be too dangerous for Pangaker’s safety to release him on bail.

Standing with drooped shoulders, the short, bearded 54-year-old had his shirt draped over his head so that the community could not see his face. An order was also made to bar the media from taking photos while the investigation was still in its most sensitive stages.

Pangaker claimed he was beaten by police while he was detained and he claimed to have injuries to his ribs, both his arms, his left leg, and his neck.

The case was postponed until April 17 for further investigation.

When police led him down to the cells community members shouted “Show his face!” breaking the silence and the court rules.

It was the start of their “civil disobedience”, as one protester would later call the protest.

Protesters rushed Goodwood magistrate's court on Friday in what would become a day of rage against drug dealers and gender-based violence.
Protesters rushed Goodwood magistrate's court on Friday in what would become a day of rage against drug dealers and gender-based violence.
Image: Esa Alexander

About an hour after the community heard that Pangaker had absconded from his parole after he was released from prison where he was serving a sentence for culpable homicide until 2015, the first pillar of smoke rose from Parow Street.

The community burnt down the house on the rumour that Pangaker took Van Wyk there after he kidnapped her.

Community members claim that children are often seen “entering and exiting” the house and that it is a well-known drug hotspot.

“That flat that they burnt down is known to be used by the drug dealers and they call it the drug dealers' headquarters,” said a man who lives in the area.

“The number ... that they burnt down, that guy used to live in the area and there’s been a very strong rumour that he himself is either a drug merchant or a drug user,” said the resident.

A TimesLIVE law enforcement source who works for a specialised task team set up to tackle drugs said that drug-related arrests at the first torched house were so prolific that law enforcement K9 units are sent to the house for training.

“The police could conduct an undercover operation at that address and get the Asset Forfeiture Unit to seize that property, but it’s a long process and for that to happen you have to find the homeowner and you have to serve him,” said the source.

The source said a warrant was out for the owner of the house, but he has remained elusive.

“We’ve fetched young kids from that place. Not kids who were there by force, but they run away from their people, and that’s the first place they go to,” said the source.

The source said he was relieved that the community had decided to target the house.

“I can understand that people are gatvol. We’ve been reprimanded by our superiors about that house, and we tell them we’ve arrested people, what more do we have to do?” said the source.

While firefighters battled to put out the flames protesters had moved on to a building in Carstens Street. Two buildings were set on fire before a tuck shop adjoining the buildings was looted by protesters.

Public Order Police attempted to disperse the crowd using stun grenades but the crowd was on the move again, running after alleged sex workers and gang members and forcing them to point out other properties where drugs are sold.

They were rescued from the mob by police, but the crowd did not dally and soon another pillar of smoke was rising, this time from a building in Voortrekker road.

A large crowd of protesters, some with placards with pictures of Van Wyk’s face, looked on as smoke billowed from a place they call the “drug dealers' headquarters”.

A man who escaped through the second-story window of Ngena Sleep & Go said the place was a “lodge”. His hand was badly cut and two burly young men rushed to his aid to bandage it with a tourniquet made from a shirt.

Firefighters managed to pull several women out of the building and put out the fire.

The protesters looked on quietly as the place burnt down before breaking into a chant, “We want justice! We want justice!”

The protesters did not stop fire engines from accessing the buildings, and there were only mild scuffles with the police, most of which were sorted out with dialogue.

Stun grenades were used to disperse looters from a shop adjoined to a suspected drug den.
Stun grenades were used to disperse looters from a shop adjoined to a suspected drug den.
Image: Esa Alexander

“The community isn’t unhappy about this, we are actually happy that this is transpiring and we are so sad that we’ve approached the law enforcement over so many years and no-one has done anything. Now it’s taken the action of the community to finally do something,” said a community member as protesters moved on to another house accused of harbouring criminals and being a drug den.

“The community have been trying for years to try and clear this area out, I mean there are more drug houses in this area than cockroaches. We have been discussing it with the minister of safety and security, we’ve been discussing it with council, we’ve been discussing it with the police over longer than a ten-year period, empty this place out,” said a resident.

“Daily we are mugged. I’ve had to rush out of my house in the middle of the night to save a woman and a man from being kidnapped from outside my house. They took the woman and threw her across the road and wanted to rape her in broad daylight,” the resident said.

“A man opposite my house was robbed and stripped naked, he had to run down the street naked. If you go to these drug houses, you see nine, ten, and eleven year olds coming in and out of these drug houses,” said the resident.

Community activist Damaris Kiewiet told TimesLIVE that the torching of the buildings weren’t mere acts of criminality, they were an act of civil disobedience.

“Gender-based violence has become a political ball. Parliament, it’s our parliament. We will go and we will occupy, that’s what the citizens need to do.

“The time has come for us to rise to the occasion, we can’t be comfortable with this,” she said.

Protesters turned over a car in Parow near a house which they allege are used to peddle drugs to the community.
Protesters turned over a car in Parow near a house which they allege are used to peddle drugs to the community.
Image: Esa Alexander

Responding to allegations that they were targeting foreign-owned premises, she denied a xenophobic motive.

“They are the pimps. They have the money, I mean if you look at those pimps on the side streets, it’s our people, they pay for their bloody luxury and we say enough is enough.

“The government must know, it’s local government elections in 2020, and they have started campaigning, and we are telling them they are not going to campaign on the back of the violence in our communities. For too long you have said the coloured people can only kill each other, but they allow our people to be murdered,” said Kiewiet.

Residents of the Parow Street house told SowetanLIVE's sister publication TimesLIVE that no drugs were sold from the house and that there was also no prostitution there.

According to Abigail Gordon, the police allowed the community to torch the house — and now she has lost just about everything.

“It’s xenophobia. It’s not their right to do this in front of the police. What should we do. These may be drug houses, but these aren’t our houses, we are just renting there,” said Gordon.

“The people who lived here before may have used drugs, but not us,” she said.

She denied that Van Wyk was held at the house.

“There was no child like that here. We didn’t even know what they looked like until we saw the pictures, but the two girls who lived behind the house, apparently they have information about this crime but now they have disappeared,” she said.

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