This was in 2013 and the gates of The Homestead were open. A taxi passed, then another. There were guys hiding behind the taxi, one had an axe, some had big knives and sticks. They came across and entered the property and chased everybody. Our neighbour ran home.

When we stepped outside we saw other guys from The Homestead coming back from E section. They asked me what’s happening and why am I running. I couldn’t respond. I felt hot, my heart was pumping and I couldn’t talk. I pointed and they escaped, going into other houses.

Me, Arthur and Xolisa were running and a guy was behind me. Arthur ran back towards me and the guy who was chasing me freaked out. Arthur stopped and chased the guy back. We split up and ran our own ways. I ran to Ilitha Park to the police station. I asked for a van and told them there was trouble. It took almost an hour. I was waiting and waiting.

A police woman asked me why my t-shirt was torn. She asked if I was a gangster and I said no, I was from The Homestead and the gangsters from site B invaded us. We took a van to The Homestead and found everyone was locked inside. I told her I was afraid to go inside, what if the gangsters come back?

Everyone was sitting looking out the window, waiting for them to come back. Nobody came. The next day two people from site B, the gangsters coming from school, stepped onto our property, threatening us with knives. They accused us of being gangsters. The carers said, “No, it’s guys from D section.” They made gestures to us, Italian signs. They said no-one must go out and all the boys from The Homestead were freaking out, saying they wanted to leave.

Stembele said he wanted to leave. He moved to a new home in Cape Town, to the multi service center. I wanted to move but my papers hadn’t been signed in court yet. The social workers said because I was older, I should just stay there and finish school. I thought, I don’t want to die young. The social workers said there was nothing we could do about the boys who are gangsters as they have nowhere to go.

We had someone who died. He was a coloured boy, Walter Petersen. He was stabbed to death by the gangs and we found him lying on the field, still alive. He had stab wounds through the back and the middle of his chest. The ambulance came. We had taken him inside, but he passed away by the time the ambulance arrived.

Some of the boys took his clothes off his body because The Homestead didn’t buy us new clothes. One of the boys took his shoes. I was shocked.

The next day no-one wanted to go to school. We hadn’t slept. We were scared to go to school, to be stabbed and killed. The next morning the manager came and she cried. We didn’t know how to react, seeing an older person cry. We were exhausted because we had cried the night before.

Walter was a good person, he used to make us laugh. Some of the boys threatened to get revenge for Walter and they went out to look for the guys. We were scared that more of us would be killed. The boys went to site B and we heard news that they stabbed someone. The person didn’t die, he got away. They came back with an innocent face and The Homestead didn’t take notice, they just told us to not be involved in gangsterism.

Another day a lot of people arrived at The Homestead. The people from the community were saying that they were being stabbed by the kids from The Homestead and that we were robbing them. We ran inside and locked the doors and gate. They knocked and we hid under the bed. The boys from the community said they would get us when we went back to school.

We used to be robbed by the boys on the way home from school. I saw gangsters hold down a boy and pull out his teeth with pliers and they robbed him. I also saw the gangsters stab a woman.

There were these girls they called Water Babies, who fought with other gangster girls, Italian Babes. One day some of the guys caught one of the Italian Babes and cut off her breast and placed it inside a can of fish. They threw it inside the window of her home. She died from the injury. It still brings me fear thinking about it.

One of the boys used to video these fights from the roof. One day I saw a killing on a video, I took his phone and watched it. Some of the boys took an axe and hit his neck, as if slaughtering a goat or chicken. A guy jumped on him, stabbed him in the chest. They hit him in the stomach with the axe. I could see the intestines falling out. I got scared. I felt sick and vomited. They took a sharpened pole and pushed it through his ear and it came out near the jaw. It was as if they were doing an experiment. They then repeatedly stabbed him. They decapitated him.

I didn’t want to be scared, I wanted to accept death.


Tell us: What do you think is the cause of gangsterism?