Danger! That’s the definition of Mannenberg … or should I say the label of Mannenberg? That place well known for gangsterism and crime…

For me, as a 13-year-old girl growing up in this thug life community, I wouldn’t say it’s all doom and gloom – it’s not that bad at all… That is up until a specific day…

It started as a normal day. My friends and I were on our way walking home from the Year Beyond after-school programme. Then this anonymous lady told us, “Hurry! Hurry! Go home – they are about to shoot.”

As scared as we were, we said our goodbyes, parted company and ran off home.

With my heavy backpack, I was very tired because of the long day at school. With my short trembling legs, I carried on, praying to God the Almighty to protect me and guide me home safe. About 10 feet from our house the shooting began. Before I knew it, I was caught in the middle of a crossfire between two rival gangs.

There was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. I started to panic. I saw my life flashing before me and ending when I’m still so young.

BANG! BANG! … POOF I felt a bullet pass my ear.

I had to duck and dive using my heavy sack as a shield.

I yearned for my mother, I cried for my dad whom I barely knew. Just the thought … this could be it, I might have to say goodbye to the world. How will my grandmother cope? OMG! How will my brother and sister prosper in life? Knowing their innocent sister was shot and killed in a stupid feud.

I thought I was in a cowboy movie with bullets coming from opposite sides. Mothers screaming at their sons, crying as they see their babies saying, “I never raised you to be this cruel.” While they were taking lives that were not theirs to take.

A silence filled the air – all things came to a standstill. My body gave a quick response. I got up from where I was laying. How I found myself there? I have no clue… I ran as fast as I could. Before I knew it I was home, standing… just standing, and crying non-stop.

My mom cried with me she was freaking out, comforting me, saying, “It’s okay my love, you’re home, you’re safe, everything is going to be just fine.”

I was sitting on the couch under the window when the shooting started again. I thanked the Almighty God for my safety. Just as I was about to pick up the glass of water – a bang! The window shattered. Broken glass everywhere and another bullet came through again. This time it almost hit me in the head.

I burst out in tears that flowed like the Nile river, shouting, “Why me?”

Twice in one day I had had two near-death experiences. I was just petrified.