When the family of Alizwa Makhanda decided to move her from Queenstown, in the Eastern Cape, to Cape Town, at the start of the year, they had high expectations for her as they planned to turn her life around.
However, their ambitions were dealt a massive blow when she was shot and killed allegedly by a Somali shopkeeper, on Wednesday January 18. Two other people were injured in the incident. The seven-year-old died on the spot.
Police spokesperson Captain Marcellus Rajap said police were looking for a suspect who is well-known in the community.
He confirmed that Alizwa died on the spot while another victim had been shot several times.
It is believed the shopkeeper went on a shooting spree after a fall-out with a customer, who was also injured.
He has since gone to ground and police are looking for him. When Vukani visited the family on Saturday January 21, distraught community members were moving in and out of the family home, offering their condolences and words of support. Bereaved family members were still trying to come to terms with the death.
In an interview with Vukani, the family said Alizwa had been living with her alcoholic mother and other relatives, in the Eastern Cape until she moved to Site C, on Monday January 9, to attend Vuzamanzi Primary School.
They said they moved her to Cape Town with the hope of giving her a brighter future. But that decision proved costly. The family is now appealing to the perpetrator to come forward and “take full responsibility” for his actions.
They are also urging the Somali community to help bring the accused to book. Commenting on Alizwa’s death, a clearly distraught grandmother Ntombizanele Pika said: “The sun set in broad daylight. We were not expecting this”.
Ms Pika said Alizwa had just returned from school when she went out to play with friends. The next moment there were gunshots. “We decided to lock the doors, but it dawned on us that the children were out playing,” she said. In the aftermath, a search ensued. Some of the kids were found, but Alizwa was nowhere to be found.
An equally distressed aunt, Nosiphiwo Nomwa, said she was returning from a community meeting when a member of the community informed her that Alizwa had been gunned down and her lifeless body was lying in the street. “As I got closer, I could see her lying down with her head stuck into the ground,” she said. Shocked and in disbelief, Ms Nomwa said she tried to wake her up by shaking her, but was stopped by other residents. Soon police arrived at the scene and cordoned off the area. It was later confirmed that she had died.
“The man that shot her had already disappeared,” said Ms Nomwa.
The incident raised the ire of the community, forcing the Somalis close shop and leave the area under heavy police guard.
Ms Pika said the family wanted to meet with the Somalis to reach some consensus on burial arrangements. “We want them to take full responsibility for what has happened. We did not plan for a funeral,” she said.
“But they are now playing hide and seek.”
She described her grandchild as an ambitious and a talkative child. “She promised to build me an upstairs (section to my house) and (buy) a car with a spare wheel attach to the back,” said Ms Pika.
Ms Nomwa said their biggest concern was Alizwa’s mother. “It is going to be like we took her away to kill her,” she said. “This is very sad.”