By Staff Reporters

Gang violence has flared up in Westbury, south of Johannesburg forcing residents to stay indoors for
fear of being caught-up in a crossfire, which has already left four people dead while 13 others have
been wounded.

The latest shootings, which has seen 13 people becoming victims of violence in 96-hours has made
the notorious Cape Flats in Western Cape seem like a Sunday picnic. The hit of an alleged Fast Guns
boss, Keenan Sheldon Ebrahim, apparently set off a chain of retaliations. Just before the slaying of the Fast Guns boss, a 50-year old woman, Zaida Watson a.k.a God Mother of the Fast Guns was gunned down execution-style inside a supermarket. The community is living in fear of their lives and that of their children who are most likely to be caught-up in crossfire, like the two youngsters who were killed.

The community told The Telegram that these gang related shootings are nothing but turf wars by
drug peddlers. A woman who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals said the introduction
of new drugs besides mandrax and dagga “the drugs that are being sold today are robbing families of
their children that are now hooked on these drugs. They are either forced to sell drugs or join

This makes it a double-edged sword for this community that is already feeling abandoned. “Nobody
hears our voice, our crying. It’s like everyone for themselves. We are not even safe in our own places
too”, said another community member.

This resident further said, “firstly our policeman must ‘be sorted out’ for working with drug dealers
and taking their money”. She alleges known drug dealers never get arrested because they are in
cahoots with the cops. “They even know their hideouts. The connections runs deep, from the
lawyers, prosecutors and all. It’s from top to bottom. Money talks and because we don’t have
it(money) our voices will never be heard”.

Another resident recalls the old Western as Westbury is sometimes called, as a gang infested area
with warring gangs, wielding knives and pangas. Then came the Fast Guns and Spaldings, things got a
bit out of hand but the police, at the time were in control of the situation. “But then other gangs like
the Vardos emerged and with them the gun battles ensued”.

Though the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele has been to the area, however the area remains eerily
tense and the community is gripped by fear. As it is Westbury has returned to its dark violent past of
random drive-by shootings and killings by warring gangsters. For the longest time the two warring
gangs, Fastguns and Vardos have been on each other’s throat.

However, in the early 90s at the height of their ganga-warfare, legendary and well renowned
journalist and poet, Don Mattera intervened by mediating between the warring gangs. Relative
peace reigned for some time and Mattera, a self-confessed gang member during his dark days of the
early 50s, is fondly hailed for his efforts of silencing the guns.

Now that the violence has flared-up again, some residents are openly lamenting his passing saying
he was the voice of reason and had the ear of both warring factions. He spoke their language and
they understood and respected him. He was a man of measure.

Westbury is again grabbing the headlines as a dangerous and violent suburbia in Johannesburg
south. According to Police Ministry spokesperson Lirandu Themba the minister’s visit was to
establish the effectiveness of the operational response to the violence, which includes amongst
other SAPS units, Crime Intelligence, Public Order Police, Technical Response Team and Anti-Gang

A follow-up visit by the Police Ministry is planned to assess the policing interventions in the
Sophiatown policing area. They will also engage the community in the multi-pronged crime
prevention intervention that will be ushered in.

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