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Cele joins Cape community as child killed in gang crossfire laid to rest

Minister Cele sat in the front row at the Levana Primary School Hall in Lavender Hill, where community members gathered to remember little Valentino Grootetjie.

Police Minister Bheki Cele and other officials are pictured on 28 December 2019, as Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato addresses mourners during the funeral of Valentino Grootetjie, 5, who was killed by a stray bullet in Lavender Hill on 21 December. Picture: Kevin Brandt/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Police Minister Bheki Cele has joined Lavender Hill residents as they lay a five-year-old gang crossfire victim to rest.

Cele sat in the front row at the Levana Primary School Hall in Lavender Hill, where community members gathered to remember little Valentino Grootetjie.

The child was playing outside his family’s Drury Court home last Saturday afternoon when a stray bullet hit him.

A large image of Grootetjie’s funeral programme was projected on the white wall behind the preachers.

Residents attending the funeral said sporadic gun violence in the community had reached a crisis point.

“The gangsters won’t shoot now because the police are here. They should be here at all times, so that this won’t happen.”

Another resident, a former gang member, added: “Especially for this area, it’s heartbreaking. I was in gangsterism, it’s like a deep hole. God saved me from it. All these ministers… what are they doing here today?”

The police’s anti-gang unit arrested two suspects in connection with the killing on Monday.

The duo appeared in the Wynberg Magistrates Court on Friday and will remain behind bars at Pollsmoor Prison until their next court appearance 23 January.