Westbury residents call for military deployment following surge in gang violence

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Westbury residents in Johannesburg have called for the deployment of the military after three people were shot and killed in the area in renewed gang violence this past week. The residents fear for the safety of their children.

In the latest incident, 32-year-old Kirsten May, a popular barber in the area, was shot and killed while on his way home with a friend.

In the video below, Westbury sees a resurfacing of deadly gang violence:


Lucien Nabier, who was with May when he was killed, says they tried to run away, but unfortunately May was shot.

“Standing here makes me very sad. It breaks my heart. Me and my friend, we were on our way home and these people just shot at us. As we looked back, we were trying to run, but as we ran, they shot again and I never knew my friend was shot. They shot me through the leg, when I ran. They were after me and he was still lying down.”

30-year-old Nabier says he outran the gang but his friend May was not as fast.

“They came back; they shot him through his head. He was a great guy, a phenomenal man. He wasn’t a fighting type, and he would tell us right from wrong. I think it’s God’s grace that I am still here, but it’s sad to see that my friend is gone.”

For May’s family, tragedy has struck twice.

“18 years ago, I lost one of my sons in the same manner. It was even worse as they stabbed him multiple times and they murdered him. All the community here is crying for their children. It’s so sore. It’s very very sore. I am not going to see my son anymore. He was my baby son. He’d come here he’d make jokes with me,” May’s mother Manchel Steyn said.

Community members just want peace in the area.

“We normally say charity begins at home, I strongly believe in that. Take it back, school your son, sort them out, because nobody else can do it for us,” one resident said.

“The kids are growing up here and the gang-related violence has been going on for so long,” another resident said.

Community leader Shahiem Ismail wants government to deploy the military in the area.

“It cannot continue like this, not a day after today. It must stop and the government, if needs be, must send the entire SANDF. Our biggest crisis Sophiatown Police Station is closed due to the COVID-19. So, we need additional deployments 24 hours.”

No arrests have been made in connection with May’s murder.

In the video below, the SABC looks at the resurgence of gang violence in Westbury. 

– Additional reporting by Thabile Mbhele.