The family of two Hangberg brothers who were gunned down at a wedding after-party last weekend are in the dark as to why they were targeted.
Gareth Brown, 23, died instantly, while his brother, Ashley Louw, 28, is recovering from his injuries in hospital, after the attack at a home in Rodevos Road, in the early hours of Sunday April 8.
The devastated family say while Mr Brown, a father of a one-year-old girl, had previously fallen in with the “wrong crowd”, he had turned his life around since the birth of his daughter.
According to the family, following the wedding of a friend at the Hangberg civic centre on Saturday night, family and friends had moved on to the after-party at the Rodevos Road home. However, Mr Brown had been at home, and it was only after pleas from his friends that he had decided to join the after-party at midnight.
The brothers’ uncle and family spokesman, Gary Louw, said a friend had woken him early on Sunday with news of the shooting.
“We don’t know who shot them because we weren’t there. What we know is that there were lots of people at the after-party, but we have no idea why the brothers, who were innocent bystanders, were shot.”
Following the shooting, friends rushed the brothers to the Hout Bay fire station for treatment. But Mr Brown was already dead.
Hout Bay police spokeswoman Warrant Officer Tanya Lesch said there had been an altercation between two groups of men earlier.
“At about 4.30am to 5am, a small group of men went to a shebeen in Hangberg to buy alcohol. There was an altercation between them and another group. On their return to Rodevos Road, shots were fired at them. It was still dark, and they could not see where the shots came from or who fired the shots.”
Warrant Officer Lesch said Mr Louw had been shot twice in the back. No arrests have been made.
The family has visited Mr Louw in hospital, and while he is talking, he is in a lot of pain and “feeling very ill”.
“We are so sad because Gareth had managed to turn his life around. When his girlfriend got pregnant two years ago, he decided to stop hanging around with bad elements. He wasn’t a gangster, although he did have enemies. About a year and a half ago, he was shot in the leg, but that made him want to change for good,” his uncle said.
Mr Brown had started to play soccer again, and was working, doing part-time work as a gardener and painter.
“He was also preparing to build a new home for his family, and was gathering bricks to do so,” Mr Louw said, pointing out the stacked construction materials outside the brothers’ family home.
Both brothers were also actively involved in soccer coaching among Hangberg youth.
“The brothers were very close, and were always making us laugh, telling jokes. They were also very loving fathers to their children,” Mr Louw said.
He believed violent crimes in Hangberg were escalating because of “outside influences” coming into the community.
“You get people coming in wanting to make a statement that no one can mess with them. They want the publicity. Another problem is that more and more people have guns. You don’t know who has a gun. The culprit or culprits must be found and brought to justice.”
Another family member, who did not want to be identified, hoped the perpetrators’ souls “rot in hell”.
Local community leader Pastor Philip Frans has called for an immediate clampdown on crime in Hangberg.
Last year, three young men, Junaid Phillips, Deswin Brown and Ryno Solomons, were killed, while this year, Mishkaah Fakier, a 44-year-old mother of four, died after being doused with petrol and set alight. Last month, another young man succumbed to his injuries after being assaulted on the streets.
“We need police to conduct an operation to rid our area of crime once and for all,” he said.
“When there were the riots last year, there was a huge police presence in Hangberg, but where is it now when our young people are dying?”
* The 18-year-old man accused of killing Junaid Phillips will appear in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court on Monday May 7.
Mr Phillips was stabbed in the chest outside a convenience store in Salamander Road, Hangberg, on Saturday January 7 last year.
Mr Phillips’s aunt, Faeza Phillips, said the family had been frustrated as the case had been postponed several times, but the accused would finally be pleading in court next month. “Junaid’s was the first killing last year. The fact that this case has taken so long to get to this stage seems to be an example to others that everyone can just go around killing people,” she said.