Hangberg carries cost of gang culture

The 31-year-old Hout Bay man accused of killing six-month-old Zahnia Woodward in a suspected gang shooting in Ocean View, late last year, allegedly had been driven out of Hangberg by residents determined to clamp down on crime in the area.

Hout Bay and Ocean View traditionally are not known for gangsterism, but residents and police say gangsters have begun to infiltrate these areas in recent years.

However, according to Hangberg residents, the man charged with Zahnia’s murder, Christopher September, originates from the area and was well known to the community.

Zahnia was shot in Carnation Road, Ocean View, on Friday December 30 while sitting on the lap of her father, Bradley Robyn, at a bus stop. They had been waiting for her mother, Cindy Woodward, to return from work.

Zahnia was struck by a stray bullet in the shooting, in which it is believed Mr Robyn was mistakenly identified as a rival gangster.

Mr Robyn and three other men were also hospitalised after being shot.

Mr September will make his second court appearance in the Simon’s Town Magistrate’s Court today, Friday January 14.

One Hangberg community leader, who spoke to the Sentinel on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, said Mr September was suspected of being involved in criminal activity and the community had threatened to carry out mob justice against him.

“This was about October or November last year. The police actually came to escort him out of Hangberg,” the man said.

Hout Bay police spokeswoman Warrant Officer Tanya Lesch declined to comment on Mr September’s relocation from Hangberg.

The community leader said features of gangsterism had only begun to surface in Hangberg in the past two or three years.

“If you go around now, you will see graffiti on the walls stating which gang runs that corner. You never used to see that. What we have found is that hardened criminals who have recently been released from prison are settling in Hangberg.

“They still have gang affiliations and are spreading their influence here. Because of their violent histories, their own families won’t allow them at home so they settle elsewhere.”

He said many of these gangsters recruited local children.

“You see the kids identifying as 28s. They are associated to the main gangs operating in areas like Lavender Hill, Manenberg and Grassy Park.”

Imizamo Yethu community leader Lelethu Lolwana said the same phenomenon was playing out in his area.

“You get people from Khayelitsha and Gugulethu settling here, and they start selling drugs. They want to hide out here,” he said.

Warrant Officer Lesch said it was “obvious” that people who were wanted for crimes in one area would relocate to another.

“It happens everywhere, not just in Hout Bay. Communities would not want to protect suspects who are causing trouble in their area, and so the suspects leave,” she said.

She acknowledged that gangster culture had begun to surface in Hout Bay in the past two or three years.

“About two years ago, we started to see kids forming groups, and so organisations like Ubuntu for Life and the SAPS sought to address the issue by speaking to schoolchildren through outreach programmes.

“Sometimes you will see these kids with a 28s insignia etched into their skin. They use a maths compass to do it. But you will ask them if they know what that really means. They see a chance to earn money for their families, but they don’t understand the negative side of it.”