Reiger Park attacks overwhelm cops

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By MPILETSO MOTUMI

Johannesburg - Eight shootings, three deaths and five survivors. These are gang-related incidents that have ravaged Reiger Park over the past 31 days.

And on Wednesday alone, two separate shooting incidents left a reformed gangster dead and two teenage friends wounded after gunmen opened fire on them.

Sixteen-year-old Byron Smit and his friend had been walking to a local supermarket on Wednesday evening when a VW Golf stopped next to them along Gerry Obelheizer street.

Byron was shot in the left thigh and shoulder and collapsed on the scene. His friend was shot in the leg.

Byron was taken to hospital in Benoni and is believed to be in a stable condition.

“Byron’s cousin is a suspect. It’s difficult to find the motive but it is believed he belonged to another gang. It’s difficult to prove whether it was domestic or gang related,” said Brakpan police spokesman Sergeant Mashudu Phathela, adding that most of the shootings that happened in Reiger Park were gang -related.

Phathela said no arrests had been made, and Smit’s cousin was still at large.

While the two teens survived, Bonaventure Brian Maynard was not so lucky.

He was shot dead on Oxford Street, a few streets from the spot where the incident involving Byron occurred.

The 42-year-old was a reformed gangster who had spent his 13 years in prison productively.

His graduation photo and degree in industrial psychology are hung proudly on the arch of the wall at his family home. He had been out of jail for three years.

“He would tell us everything he wanted to do once he was released, but when he came out, there was nowhere to go,” said family friend Alfred Woodington.

Phathela said a black VW Polo without a registration plate had parked near the house on the morning of Maynard’s death.

“According to witnesses, three men dragged him onto the street and started fighting with him,” he said. He said that was when Maynard was shot.

He said that in many instances, gangs fought over territory and drugs. He said the police had increased visibility in the area by bringing in the flying squad and tactical response team.

But Woodington disagrees with the methods the police use.

“All this sensation feeds on the egos of gangsters. We don’t need soldiers, just three or four dedicated police officers. We must not give the impression that drug addicts can start a civil war,” he said.

He said it was dangerous to label all incidents in so-called coloured communities as gang related because it discouraged committed investigations.

He said killings happened in areas like Tembisa, Vosloorus and Daveyton but they weren’t labelled as gang wars.

Woodington also said there was no real relationship between the police and the community.

“Reiger Park is not just a gangland… there are more churches here than shebeens, there’s a lot more good people than bad,” he said.

Woodington said Maynard was a hard-working man who wanted to change his life.

“This is a tragedy. A loss of a brother,” he said.

Another shooting happened on Sunday, when another teenage boy was shot by people believed to have been looking for his father. The boy survived.

Phathela said there was another incident two weeks ago where four males were shot. Two died and two survived.

Three other people were shot in December and two of them died. “Hopefully we will make arrests soon,” said Phathela.

He said the area had a small police station and not enough police officers.

mpiletso.motumi@inl.co.za

The Star

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