'People are at breaking point': Community mourns after girl killed

27 February 2020 - 06:23 By ARON HYMAN
Emaan Solomons's grandparents Ronald Solomons and Pearl Daniels hold her portrait on the spot where she was killed on Tuesday.
Emaan Solomons's grandparents Ronald Solomons and Pearl Daniels hold her portrait on the spot where she was killed on Tuesday.
Image: Aron Hyman

The sun was low over Cape Town when President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed Elsies River residents about the brutal murder of eight-year-old Tazne Van Wyk and said government interventions were already working to keep young girls safe.

But by the time he had finished speaking and was bowing his head in prayer, seven-year-old Emaan Solomons was lying on her stomach. Her lifeless brown eyes were wide open and staring at the last light of day.

She was murdered in Ocean View, yet another troubled Cape Town community where police resources are scarce and the drug problem overwhelming.

Her grandmother Pearl Daniels could not handle the grief as she counted down the grandchildren she had left on one hand: five minus one.

“It's hard to remember that she's not here any more. Every month, twice or three times, if I go to the shops I must know I have five grandchildren. Now I must remember it's not five, it's just four,” said Daniels, pushing down her little finger before tears streamed down her cheeks.

Daniels, who works as a nurse, arrived to find Emaan lying on her stomach just two metres from the front door of her parent's home. Her parents were hysterical. The community had arrived and tensions were high.

“I pretended to check her vital signs but I could see she was dead. I don't know what sort of bullet hit her, but her little body was ripped open. She was lying on her stomach and her head was looking to the left. Her eyes were wide open and dilated,” she said.

Emaan wanted to be a beautician, said her grandparents.

Her grandfather Ronald Solomons said the community had reached a point beyond the threshold of what they could handle. He said there were too few police officers and too few vehicles.

On Sunday, the community marched through the streets of Ocean View, warning drug dealers and gangsters that if the constant shooting didn't cease, they would take matters into their own hands.

That night Virgil van Wyk was shot and hospitalised. And now Emaan.

Residents protest at the intersection leading to Ocean View.
Residents protest at the intersection leading to Ocean View.
Image: Aron Hyman

According to community member Paul Franke, the violence started after his cousin Lincoln Jacobs was killed during load-shedding in the area. One of the men arrested by the police had been released from prison the day before, according to Franke, after serving a sentence for murder.

Earlier this month, one of the witnesses in the murder and burning of surfer David Wolfromm near Kommetjie last year, Jocelyn Claasen, was murdered. She was heavily pregnant.

“They are constantly shooting, especially when it's load-shedding. The people are walking openly in the streets with guns. There's a shortage of cops and a shortage of vehicles. The willingness to catch people just isn't there,” said Franke.

He said that the neighbourhood watch would often be surprised to find out that someone who was recently locked up was back in the community.

“The guy who killed my cousin, the day before he killed him he came out of prison. He was talking loudly in the taxi that he was back to cause trouble. He was in prison for murder and shooting.”

Franke said witnesses in the small community of Ocean View were often targets. “They don't want to go into witness protection programmes. They're too used to this life.

“People are at breaking point. Next time they will burn down properties belonging to drug dealers and harm people.”