A seven-year-old boy was killed and his sister is fighting for her life in hospital after the pair were shot when armed men opened fire near their home in Philippi.
Chiamaka Ibeneme, 7, was declared dead at the scene and his sister, Micheala, 10, is receiving treatment at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital after she was shot in the back – reportedly while running from the gunfire.
On Saturday outside Red Cross Hospital the duo’s devastated father, Emeka Collins Ibeneme, broke down saying he had “failed” his children. He was watching Generations with his neighbours and thought his children were at home safe.
The shooting occurred shortly after 8pm on Friday night at the Sweet Home Farm informal settlement in Philippi, while the siblings were alone at home.
Just 10 days ago, five children were shot in two separate incidents in Mitchells Plain, which left two teenagers dead and three others wounded.
While the circumstances of the Philippi shooting are unclear, residents describe the area as a war zone with the sound of gunshots a daily occurrence, and deaths, as a result of these shootings, happening almost daily.
Ibeneme said he and his wife, Nobomu, were devastated, and were working with police to ensure the perpetrators were caught.
“I feel like I failed them as a father because I couldn’t protect them. Your children are supposed to bury you, not you burying your youngest and while the other is fighting for her life in hospital,” he said.
“It was just after 8pm when the shooting happened. Earlier, my son had come to get me and I got his sister to sit with him at home while I watched Generations at a neighbour’s house.
“Shortly afterwards I heard the gunshots and then saw them running and it was chaos. After I caught up with my daughter, who had been shot in the back of the shoulder, someone told me my son had run in the direction of our home and I assumed he was fine. But while calling around for an ambulance, my wife came and told me that our boy was dead.
“The ambulance was taking so long because they told us they were waiting for a police escort. I grabbed my daughter and went begging to the neighbours to take us to the hospital, because I didn’t want to lose her either while waiting for help. I left my son lying there dead to try and save my daughter.”
Spokesperson for the Western Cape Department of Health Mark van der Heever confirmed that Philippi and surrounding areas remain a red zone which necessitated police escorts into the area.
“There is often a delay while EMS waits for an escort, and it depends on the availability of a police van that determines the delay. It varies, but the areas around Nyanga, Gugulethu, Philippi-East and Mitchells Plain remain in the red zone because of the continued attacks on our staff,” he explained.
Nobomu said she got to their son just before he died, but there was nothing that could be done as he had been shot in the head.
“I found him a few feet from our doorstep lying on his bed. He had been shot in the head. He just said ‘mama, mama’ and went quiet and then died.
“It is a painful thing to see your own child die in front of you. This area is growing more and more dangerous and nobody cares,” she said.
Neighbours say the death of the child has shocked the community, which is constantly on edge due to the ongoing shootings in the area.
“Two men in balaclavas were seen running from the area and, knowing how things work in this area, someone knows them, but they are scared to come forward with information because they will be targeted,” said a neighbour who asked to not be named.
Police spokesperson Captain FC van Wyk said the circumstances around the shooting incident were being investigated.
“A murder and an attempted murder case were registered for investigation,” he said.
Anyone with information about the shooting can contact the investigating officer, Detective Sergeant Dlabantu, on 071 675 4038 or Crime Stop on 08600 10111.
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