Sadness and sorrow were etched into the faces of the Bonkolo family whose son Athenkosi, was among six men shot dead last Sunday evening.
The shooting happened around 8pm in Taiwan informal settlement in Site C on Sunday May 8. When police arrived at the scene, five of the victims were already dead. The sixth died in hospital.
The deceased have been identified as Athenkosi, 22, Khayalethu Nelani, 32, Asanda Nofemale, 34, Sivuyile Lubobo, 42, Mthokozisi Mhlakaza, 37, and a man, believed to be a foreign national, who is yet to be identified.
In an unrelated incident, Nosiphiwo James, 29, from the same area had been stabbed to death, bringing to seven the number of the people killed in Khayelitsha that day. Police said they were looking for her boyfriend in connection with the incident.
When Vukani visited the scene of Sunday’s shooting with top provincial police, including the provincial police commissioner Lieutenant General Thembile Phathekile, shocked residents and families of the victims had gathered around the area.
Athenkosi’s mother, Phatheka Bonkolo, said she was extremely sad to have lost her only child in this manner, and that she had no idea how she would bury him as she was unemployed. Her policies, she said, had lapsed because she no longer had an income.
“I have no words to describe how I feel about this. I’m extremely hurt, honestly, and do not know what to say or to do. I’m begging to anyone who could assist in burying my child to please assist,” she said.
General Phathekile said more than 50 cartridges had been found at the scene, but they had not yet determined the motive for the shooting.
He said police were investigating the connection between the people who had been shot, to get a better understanding of what drove the shooters.
“What we have now is that this one was coming from the shop and the other one was going somewhere.
‘’And people did not see or hear anything but just dead bodies lying here. Such mass killings tell us that there might be a conflict amongst those killed and (the) killers. I’m urging the people to share any information that they might have about the incident.
‘“They can contact me directly and I can guarantee that we are not going to reveal their identities and their lives won’t be at risk. This is a sad story but I’m appealing to the people to share information,” he said.
Mr Nelani’s neighbour, Lungiswa Makhalima, said he had asked her for R2 to buy a cigarette and shortly after he left their house they had heard multiple gunshots. They went out to see what was happening, but when they heard more gunfire, they went back inside.
Later, said Ms Makhalima, they saw Khayalethu lying in a pool of blood. When they called his name, he responded, but shortly after that he died. When asked to describe Mr Nelani, she said he was a sweet and helpful young person. To her knowledge, she said, he had not been involved in crime.
Ward councillor Khayalethu Khama said the incident had shaken the community and left them fearing for their safety.