I have nightmares, says friend of 12-year-old killed in Cape Flats massacre
Noor Solomons* is only 12, but he will always be haunted by a quadruple murder that took the life of his best friend three weeks ago.
The execution-style murder of three children and a 19-year-old man took place in Clarke Estate, a community within the gang-riddled Cape Town suburb of Elsies River.
Malcolm Samuels and Adrian Alexander, both 12, were shot in the face and neck when two gunmen burst into the Wendy house where they slept.
Vineto Africa, 19, thought to have been the person the killers were after, was shot in the face.
The gunmen also burst into another room in the Wendy house, where Malcolm’s sister, Toslin, 10, was asleep on a bed with her mother and Adrian’s mother.
Toslin was shot in the head and died instantly, while the two mothers pretended to be dead after sustaining gunshot wounds. They survived.
Violence is a way of life in Elsies River. Like other places on the Cape Flats, children have been caught in the crossfire of gun battles in the street.
But knowing their friends were shot while sleeping has added another layer of trauma for children in the community.
Noor, who is in Grade 5, told our sister publication TimesLIVE: “I was fast asleep in my bed and then I heard loud shooting. It woke us all up. We all ran outside and it was in the middle of the night.”
Barely able to hold back his tears, he added: “After that I heard it was my friend who was shot dead. I went to his funeral. I have nightmares.
“I like the thing of the army being here, because the army can even fight for our country, so they can protect the children. But also, you know, the gangsters go wherever they want, even if there are children there.”
Dereez Witbooi, who lives near the scene, said she had been trying to deal with her own trauma, while comforting her daughter, who was best friends with Toslin.
“This is a fearful area. It has been very traumatic for my daughter. She has been in a state, and even worse when the funeral took place,” she said.
“They lived so close to us. The night it happened, we saw them laying there. My daughter has cried a lot.”
According to researchers at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), children’s exposure to extreme violence can have a lifelong negative effect on them.
Many go on to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Its “debilitating” effects are often accompanied by symptoms of depression, anxiety and sleep complications.
“This can lead to long-term academic, social and emotional consequences in this vulnerable group,” according to lead researcher Karl Swain and his team.
*Not his real name