‘How many youngsters have to die before we get help?’ Wentworth residents as 15-year-old shot dead on the street

Leyton Fynn and Junaid Ndunge are two youngster who have died in shooting incident in Wentworth. Graphic: Kim Kay

Leyton Fynn and Junaid Ndunge are two youngster who have died in shooting incident in Wentworth. Graphic: Kim Kay

Published May 26, 2024


“How many more youngsters have to die before we get the help?”

This was a question a Wentworth pastor raised this week, following the deadly shooting of a 15-year-old boy.

The boy was shot in the chest on Woodville Road in Wentworth on Monday.

KZN police spokesperson Constable Thenjiswa Ngcobo said Wentworth police were investigating a case of murder after the victim was shot by unknown suspects.

According to a police incident report, it is alleged two suspects wearing balaclavas approached the victim and fired shots at him and ran away. The boy was rushed privately to hospital but died en route.

His devastated grandmother, Dorothy Ogle told IOL she had been travelling to Gauteng for another relative’s funeral when she received news that her grandson had been shot.

Ogle said her grandson, 15-year-old Junaid Ndunge, had apparently been walking on the road with friends when he was gunned down.

She said she had raised him from a baby since the passing of his father. His mother was not in the picture.

“It is shocking, I don’t know the motive for the shooting, but it is a tragedy. As a family, we were dealing with a loss, and now this.”

In a similar incident, a matric pupil in Wentworth was shot dead in broad daylight on his way to holiday classes in June 2023.

Leyton Fynn, 17, a matric pupil at Wentworth Secondary School, was shot and killed on June 27, 2023.

He had been walking along Richard Winn Road, on his way to Fairvale Secondary when a suspect approached the teenager and fired several shots at him. He died instantly.

Speaking to IOL this week, Fynn’s sister, Shannon Franks said the family remained traumatised following her only brother’s death.

She said that while one person, an 18-year-old has been arrested in connection with the murder, the court proceedings have been delayed, with issues of legal aid and she was hoping that they would receive finality soon in the matter.

Franks said their family could not come to terms with the horrible way her brother was murdered.

“He was our baby.”

Franks said the issue of shootings continued to plague the Wentworth area.

In May 2023, a 14-year-old boy was shot and wounded in Major Calvert Road. According to an incident report, police received a complaint of a shooting and when they arrived at the scene, bystanders informed them that the victim had been shot in the left shoulder and the left side of the neck.The boy survived the shooting.

‘Gunfire is a normal occurrence’

Community members say shootings in the Wentworth area happen on a daily basis.

“Gunfire is a normal occurrence and we have been calling for police to deploy a specialised unit to deal with the levels of crime,” said community activist Desmond D’sa.

He said meetings with the top brass of the South African Police Service (SAPS) have fallen on deaf ears.

“We have been asking for a dedicated team to be sent to Wentworth.

“Our lives are cheap. We have lost over 100 children due to gang-violence. We are living in a war-zone.”

D’sa said police have failed to do anything about it, and it has therefore become a free-for-all.

Local pastor, Donovan Anderson said shootings are ongoing.

“We have repeatedly asked for a task team to be reinstated countless times, but to no avail.

“The only way to end this, is to get the police operational again. The ministers of Wentworth have had repeated meetings with SAPS right up to the provincial level.

“The question is how many more young people have to die before we can receive help that we asking for?”

IOL asked local police about the situation in Wentworth.

Provincial police spokesperson Brigadier Jay Naicker said there have been numerous interventions by police in the province and at district level to address the challenge of youth involved in crime at Wentworth over many years.

“Numerous arrests have been effected, and drugs as well as firearms have been seized.

“The problems facing Wentworth are the same that affects many other suburbs in KwaZulu-Natal where we are seeing that children growing up in a community are turning on the very same community.

“The factors contributing to the youth involved in serious crime require a multifaceted approach. Police deployments alone will not deal with the root causes of the crime.”

When asked about the claim that 100 children had been killed in Wentworth, Naicker said: “Please note that the crime statistics are released on a quarterly basis and will clearly indicate where Wentworth sits, in so far as murders within the province.”

Echoing similar sentiments was Professor Malose Langa, an expert on gang violence from the University of Witwatersrand who said the issue of gang violence cannot alone be reduced to a policing issue.

He said there needs to be early childhood interventions, especially when looking at the history of the community.

“Many of those involved in any violence in the community did not just start today.

“There are many contributing factors, like some may have dropped out of from schools, have absent parents, have a learning or behavioural problem.

“We (tend to) want to deal with the issue of them acting violently.”

Langa said he disagreed with the approach.

“Let’s call the army and have more visible policing. The Western Cape is a good case study which shows that this does not work.

“Gang violence cannot be dealt with the police alone. You have you look at the history of how many of these gang-members were raised.”

There has to be a provision of mental health facilities.

Langa said you have to get to the root causes of the problem.

“For example, if a gang member is sent to jail, others take over.”

Citing a recent alleged gang boss case in the Western Cape where the accused is currently behind bars awaiting trial, Langa said the level of violence had not decreased since his incarceration.

“There are just new leaders that emerge.”

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