Manenberg: Living in Fear
Eyewitness News gets to grips with the gang violence in Manenberg.
Two hours - 60 shots
It's just before 8pm on a Thursday in Manenberg. It's quiet. Almost serene.
Residents say such evenings are rare.
Usually they seek shelter inside, the loud pop of shots ringing in their ears.
For a while this evening seems an exception; some leave the refuge of their homes - pockmarked by bullet holes - to stroll the streets.
But when darkness descends, thanks to load shedding, so does the violence.
At least 30 shots are fired in one hour.
"We're just going to wait it out. When the lights come back on we'll probably find a body," says Ronald Snipper of the Manenberg Safety Forum.
Snipper's house borders territory claimed by fierce rivals - the Americans and the Hard Livings gangs.
Their running battles have claimed the lives of at least six people in May. At least 20 others have been injured.
As we sit in the dark it's difficult to identify where the shots are coming from.
We've yet to see a police van.
This is in contrast to 18 hours earlier, when law enforcement crisscrossed Manenberg as part of government's Operation Fiela.
The gang-ridden community was visited by police officials of a different kind - tactical response units, Cape metro police and Vispol - all of which were supported by the army. Uniformed men kicked down doors while searching for illegal guns and drugs.
This show of force restored calm, albeit only for a while. Locals told us they knew this was a temporary reprieve.
Nonetheless, children returned to playing in the streets; construction at a nearby block of flats continued without disruption.
Most locals were reluctant to discuss the gang violence.
One woman, whose son is a gangster affiliated with the Americans, explains.
"You know, I've got a son, he's in there (in the gangs) and he would be really upset if he heard that I was talking about this. We really want to put an end to this fighting," she says.
Her son's friends who are affiliated to the Americans spend most of the day in an alley just off Thames Avenue.
They are trapped because leaving their territory may trigger gun battles.
The groups have set boundaries and gang members can't be caught wandering into a rival's 'territory'.
"If you go to their side, they will think you're starting a fight. Even if you're not a gang member and live on the Americans side, they will stop you," says an American member.
Most of these young men told Eyewitness News that while they want an end to the violence, they don't see a way out of this life.
But the victims of the violence are residents who constantly live in fear, not only in the neighbourhood but also inside their own homes.
During a shootout a few weeks ago, a number of bullets penetrated Cynthia Davids home and one is still lodged in her front door.
Community organisations are trying to broker a peace deal between gangs but at the moment those efforts have not been successful because shootings persist.
In the latest incident a woman was rushed to hospital on Saturday after being caught in the crossfire between the Hard Livings and the Clever Kidz.
At the moment Manenberg residents live in fear in their neighbourhood, not knowing whether the next bullet fired could end their life or that of a loved one.