Death on the street

Many knew Deswin Brown as the cheerful young car guard outside the Hout Bay Spar. On Saturday night, someone shot him in the head.

“Deswin was the most well-mannered, easy guy you would find. He worked as a car guard outside Spar, and everyone knew him as the guy with the friendly smile who went everywhere with his dog and skateboard,” said his devastated aunt Yolanda Solomons. 

Pastor Philip Frans, who has organised marches against crime in the area, said the first fatality of the drug war would make people understand that the situation was “very serious now”.

“We have previously called for a meeting with all community leaders, NGOs and other role-players, and this will now be taking place at the Hangberg Sports and Recreation Centre on May 22 from 6pm,” he said.

“We have also invited representatives from all three spheres of government. We will be discussing ways in which we can get drugs and illegal firearms out of our area.”

Tributes have poured in for Mr Brown on the Hout Bay Organised Facebook group.

Resident Rob Barnes said he was feeling as though “a large portion of the middle of my chest has been cruelly ripped out”.

“A young man was my friend for two years, although it was a strange relationship because it was a study in opposites… I went to Groote Schuur this morning to say farewell to his unconscious and probably brain dead body. Goodbye, Des. It was good knowing you even if you were amazingly destructive without ever knowing why,” he wrote.

Veronica Reed recalled that Mr Brown had been a regular customer at St Luke’s Charity Shop.

Innocent Dzingirai said: “It’s so sad … I knew him, always see him around with his dog. May his soul rest in peace.”

Ms Solomons, who is a single parent, said she feared for the lives of her family and friends.

“Hout Bay is becoming like Lavender Hill or Manenberg. You can’t even walk the streets anymore. Excuses are made that there is unemployment and poverty in Hangberg and that’s why people are forced into dealing drugs, but that’s rubbish.

“There are a lot of successful people who have come out of Hangberg. The people involved in these activities do not want to be educated and have simply dropped out of school.”

Mr Brown’s organs had been donated after his life support was turned off at noon on Monday, Ms Solomons said. His memorial service will be on Saturday.

Those wishing to make donations to the family to cover the costs of the service may contact Ms Solomons at 071 7522 729.