Ryan has been shot, again

Oct 19, 2014  |  Sunday Letter

Ryan’s story is written by Greg Andrews.

Please join with me in lament for the Ryan’s of Cape Town and in the world.

Ryan has been shot, again.

This is the story of Ryan, 19-year-old who lives in Factreton, Cape Town, South Africa; a neighbourhood overrun by gangsters. Ryan is the younger brother of Masooda who is the kitchen manager at The Service Dining Rooms and my colleague. I have followed Ryan’s story over the last year and am sharing this story to help people understand what it’s like to live on the Cape flats at the moment. Masooda and Ryan have agreed to let this story be shared.

In January 2014, Ryan and a few friends were travelling on a bus to Vygieskraal Stadium to participate in the annual Cape Minstrel Carnival. A group of youngsters from Ryan’s neighbourhood, known for their insipient criminal tendencies, picked on Ryan and his friends, insisting that they vacate their seats. In the ensuing argument, the local roughs knifed Ryan, and two friends, one of whom died later from his wounds. Ryan managed to escape the bus in the commotion.

Despite many witnesses, only Ryan and one other submitted statements to the police and agreed to testify.

In the months that followed, Ryan and his family were subjected to repeated threats. Ryan’s mother was even charged with a spurious assault charge which was thrown out of court but not before she had been arrested at home and spent a night in jail.

In March 2013 Ryan was shot on the stoep of his home after returning from the shops. A single shot penetrated his kidney. Ryan spent a week in Groote Schuur Hospital. In the week that he was discharged, one of Ryan’s friends, Shamiel, was shot dead. It is suspected that Shamiel was shot because he might have been a witness to the incident on the bus although he hadn’t given a statement to the police.

Later in 2013 Ryan and the other witness in the bus incident were charged with a different murder. It was clear (even to local police!) that the charge had been laid against Ryan and his friend to discourage them from testifying. Ryan spent a month in prison awaiting a bail hearing. Bail was set at R2000 and Masooda managed to get enough money together from supporters and family to pay the bail. The case is still pending…

In March 2014 Ryan was shot again as he was leaving home. A motorbike passed by and shot him in the pelvis. He spent another month in hospital. While he was recovering in hospital he was charged with attempted murder of a local youngster despite the fact that he was lying in hospital at the time of the attack. The state refused bail and Ryan spent another 2 months in Polsmoor awaiting trial. Later, on appeal, R1000 bail was granted. Both the murder case and attempted murder case are still awaiting a trial date.

Because of the continuing threat to Ryan, his family decided he should go live with relatives in Stellenbosch.

On Thursday, 9 October, Ryan appeared in court to give testimony in the case concerning the second shooting attack on himself. He had to stay with Masooda in Factreton that night. The family were unable to organise transport for Ryan to return to Stellenbosch the next day as they were waiting for some cash from Masooda’s wages to pay transport. Ryan was due to travel back to Stellenbosch on Saturday.

Ryan took the opportunity to visit friends on Friday night and when he returned home with his girlfriend, he was confronted by a young man who had been to school with Ryan. The young man pulled a gun on Ryan and chased him. Ryan fled to a neighbour’s house where he fell against the door of the house and his girlfriend fell on top of him trying to shield him. The assailant came up to the prone couple and pushed the gun around her so he could shoot Ryan. As each bullet hit him, Ryan murmured for his mother. His girlfriend was shouting that the assailant should shoot her too, because she had seen his face. After firing all 8 bullets in the magazine the young man ran off.

Ryan’s mom, who was asleep a few doors down, heard the shots and a little later the cries of a neighbour calling her to come to Ryan’s aid. Eventually Ryan was taken to Groote Schuur Hospital where he underwent a 9 hour operation to repair the damage done to his abdomen. Unfortunately he lost a kidney. He then underwent a further 3 hour operation to have pins implanted in his legs to repair the numerous breaks where bullets had shattered bones.

The shooter had been recruited by local gangsters and was not experienced. Despite firing 8 times, and all 8 bullets hitting Ryan, he was not fatally wounded. He remains in a critical condition at the hospital but doctors are optimistic about his recovery. Thankfully for Ryan, Cape Town has some of the most experienced gunshot surgeons in the world. That is itself says a great deal about the state of affairs in this city.

I know that as I share this story there will be many people who want to help. Right now, Ryan and his family need legal help. Legal Aid is a wonderful resource, but the lawyers are over-burdened and only have time to handle one case at a time. Ryan is being attacked on several fronts at once and he needs a strong advocate who can fight his case in court and ensure that his rights are not being infringed. If you would like to help, share this story. Eventually, we hope, someone will stand up and take Ryan’s case on.

Greg Andrews

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 Thank you to everyone who sponsored a young person to attend camp this weekend. It is our hope that providing such opportunities for young people — some of whom live in very vulnerable and broken communities — will lessen the amount of Ryan’s in our world. Thank you to Dr Gilbert Lawrence for preaching today.

Grace, Alan

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