News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Thursday September 19th 2019

Gang war leaves teenagers too scared to go to school

Fears for their safety has seen a number of high school children in Khayelitsha not returning to school this term as they have to enter rival gang territory to do so.

The teenagers from Harare, controlled by the Vura gang, have to go to neighbouring Kuyasa, controlled by the rival Vato-Slokos gangs, to attend school.

And the resignation last week of the voluntary security patrol which used to guard the roads to and from school has left the teenagers vulnerable.

The head of the security patrol, Fezekile Gubevu, who has confiscated knives, axes and pangas from teenage gang members, shut down the operation last week after attacks on his house and being accused by teenagers and parents of siding with one or other of the gangs.

A group of about ten teenagers arrived at Gubevu’s house in Harare yesterday morning asking him to guard them on their way to school.

Following his refusal some of the school children went home and changed out of their uniform, claiming they would be killed if they go to school.

Gubevu said after years of patrolling, he’d washed his hands of the teenage gangs after a group of about 50 Vato members from Kuyasa who believed a rival Vura member was hiding out in his house hurled large rocks at his corrugated iron shack, damaging the structure and breaking the asbestos roof on March 31.

His house came under attack again this past Saturday when a group of about 100 Vato members demanded he return weapons he’d confiscated.

“This is not just a fight, it’s a war. We already attacked more and killed four from their side, now they want the number to be equal. Until that happens they won’t stop,” said a Vura gang member who avoided going to school in Vato territory yesterday.

“Some of them are no longer going to school, they’re waiting for us at Kuyasa so they can kill us, that’s why we don’t want to go to school alone,” said the teenager.

He said they can’t go to school with weapons and Gubevu was their only hope to study.

“We all respect him, we even stop the fights but the Vato’s won’t stop until they kill someone from us, but they’re not succeeding,” he said.

Gubevu said he used to accompany the boys in Harare who attended Esangweni High in Kuyasa and then walk with the Kuyasa boys to Kwamfundo High in Harare.

He said the boys did not fight when he was present but parents had now got involved, accusing him of confiscating weapons from the Vato’s in Kuyasa and giving them to the Vura’s in Harare.

He said threats against his family since parents started involving themselves in the teenage gang violence had made him reconsider his stance after years of providing security.

“My children are still young, none of them are involve in these gang fights but I wanted these fights to stop. My children’s life’s are now in danger now.”

He said the violence between the teenagers was ongoing, with two Vura boys fighting for their lives after being attacked by Vato members on Monday.

“One was attacked Monday afternoon on a fight. The other one was attack in his home by a group of 10 Vato’s who were looking for his young brother. Lucky the neighbour came to rescue him,” said Gubevu.

Harare’s Kwamfundo High secretary Sibongile Ntlokombini said he could not say exactly how many pupils were absent yesterday but “a few” had not come to school due to gang affiliation.

“We always communicate with parents and they will be sent them back to school,” he said. – Nombulelo Damba

Tags: Fezekile Gubevu, Harare, Khayelitsha, kuyasa, Kwamfundo High, Sibongile Ntlokombini, Vato-Slokos, Vura gang

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