Bianca Alexander played dead after she was shot when three gunmen barged into a home in Clarke Estate in the middle of the night and opened fire. When her assailants ran out of ammunition, she and her injured friend fled their Elsies River dwelling in which their children had just been killed.
“She told me she had begged for their lives, but they shot anyway,” her brother, Jayson Alexander, told News24 after visiting her at Tygerberg Hospital.
Bianca and her friend, Mandy Samuels, 31, were the only survivors of the massacre on Tuesday night, which saw three children and a teenager die in a hail of bullets.
Jayson, who lives in the wendy house next door to where the bloodbath occurred behind Northmead Court, said the two women only survived because their assailants had run out of bullets.
“She told me she had heard one of the shooters say, ‘finish them’. But when they aimed and fired, the gun was empty. They had been reloading when they made a run for it, this after Bianca had already been shot in the back and Mandy in the back and leg.”
Bianca’s son, Adrian “AJ” Alexander, 12, had been shot in the neck, while Samuel’s son, Malcolm Junior “MJ” Samuels, 12, was shot in the face. The boys had fallen asleep on a couch opposite the doorway. A bullet hole and blood spatter could still be seen on the nearby washing machine.
Vineto Africa, 19, was killed after being shot in the face while lying on a bed in the same room as the boys. He is believed to have been the target of the shooting.
Samuel’s daughter Toslin, 10, had been lying on the bed with the two women when the shooters forced their way in, Jayson said. She too died instantly.
An injured Samuels had rolled from the bed when the bullets started raining in the rickety three-roomed structure.
According to locals, close to 50 shots had gone off.
Jayson said he had been at work when his wife phoned him about the volley of bullets being fired next door.
“She told our kids to lie on the ground until she eventually heard them run away. The shooters shot at Mandy and Bianca as they ran and also shot at one of the windows where someone had screamed when they realised what was happening. They wanted no witnesses.”
Three men were arrested within hours of the shooting. They will appear in the local magistrate’s court once charged.
Samuel’s mother-in-law, Rachel Klink, wept for her two grandchildren who she had seen just hours before they were murdered. It was on her door in Northmead Court that a bleeding Samuels had banged and called for help that night.
“When my son opened the door he asked her what was going on. She screamed, ‘The children are dead!’ and collapsed.”
Klink, 67, had run to Samuel’s home, where she discovered the lifeless children. She cried as she showed the positions she found them in.
“They came to visit me every day. Junior would sometimes sleep over, Toslin would be in and out of my house.”
Klink’s son, Malcolm, died last year following an asthma attack. MJ and Toslin had been his only children.
“Now I lost everything I had of him [Malcolm], my second youngest son.”
On Wednesday, residents set the blood-soaked bed and couch that the children had been murdered on alight. It had been riddled with bullet holes.
Elsies River is one of 10 areas in the Western Cape with the highest attempted murder rates, where the army was deployed to help in joint operations with the police.
On Monday, the Presidency announced President Cyril Ramaphosa had extended the South African National Defence Force’s stay until March 31, 2020. The original two-month deployment was meant to end on Monday.
ANC MP Faiez Jacobs consoled the two families on Thursday, saying suffering communities no longer wanted only the army, but also justice.
Flanked by religious leaders, who came to pray for the victims, Jacobs said he was pleased by the police’s swift response in arresting the suspects.
They should not be released on bail, he insisted.
“We ask our judges to not show leniency to child killers,” Jacobs said, amid murmurs of agreement.
Western Cape SA Human Rights Commission commissioner Chris Nissen joined traumatised residents as they sang hymns outside the murder scene on Thursday.
He said combating crime was not only the police’s responsibility.
“We know who the gangsters are, but we keep quiet. There are mothers who know the gun that their son has is illegal, but they don’t talk about it. When your laaitie comes home wearing new Nikes and you know he’s not working, why are you not questioning him?” Nissen asked.
“We must stand up and speak out.”