Gangland Killing

21 Jan

It is all too easy to see headlines saying Gangland Killing and think murderers, drug dealers and rapists.  And let’s be honest, is it not true that often the next thought is “good riddance, let them get rid of each other,” before looking for the next article to read?
But this is not always the case.



What I am writing about took place in Gugulethu, a township in South Africa. However It could have happened in more than one city across the world. In places where, for many families, poverty punctuates every facet of their lives, parents watch with despair as their children are both tempted and forced into joining street gangs.
To refuse takes enormous courage.
Lunga was such a person. A deeply religious young man, he was never tempted by the comradeship and protection that being a member of a gang gives.
He had no interest in easy money. He wanted to earn his honestly. To be someone who could hold his head up high and tell his children he had never caused grief to one person.   His ambition was to be a chef and on leaving school he managed to obtain a basic training at a township cooking school, one that qualified him to work in a fast food outlet.
That was not what Lunga wanted and at twenty he applied to my friend’s restaurant, the award winning Savoy Cabbage, for a position.
“I want to learn to cook,” he told Peter, the head chef. He was taken on for three months trial; that was five years ago.
He took tremendous pride in his work and became a valuable member of the team. A year ago he married and to his joy one month ago his baby daughter arrived.
The last time I saw him he was leaving work and I, sitting in the restaurant was finishing dinner. He was in a hurry to get home to his young family, but he still stopped at my table. I noticed that he was wearing new chinos and said he was looking smart. He beamed at me, shared a joke with my friend, then still chuckling, left.

The following day I heard what had happened to him.
Three men, one car and an AK47.
He saw them coming, tried to run, I am sure he called out to God then. Perhaps he begged for mercy. There was none. Eight bullets smashed into the back of his head. He was dead before he hit the ground.

Why, why, why we asked?  That took several hours to be answered. He had a brother; also trained once as a chef, but then the lure of the gangs drew him in. A member of a rival one was killed. Their revenge?  To kill Lunga, a young man with so much to look forward to. Such a cowardly, cowardly act.
I think of his children who will grow up never knowing their father and how special he was. Of his young wife and his mother grieving. How neither could even run their fingers through his hair or place one last kiss on his cold face.  Such a brutal death denied them of even that final good bye.
He was twenty five.


8 Responses to “Gangland Killing”

  1. Zolani Ratya January 22, 2014 at 9:10 am #

    It’s very hard to believe what is happening in the streets of Nyanga (Gugulethu) & it’s even worse when you lose someone close to you. Last time I spoke Lungas, he asked me & my GF for lunch at his house, I’m deeply hurt by this incident…Words can’t describe how I feel right now rip to one of my best friends. God gained three amazing angels tonight you will be missed man. Thanks Toni for this post, you took it way further than my imagination. It’s brilliant and one of the best articles I read in a while. Especially like the way you created his desires about his career, spiritual principles and the way he was killed. Amazing breakdown. May his soul RIP

    • tonimaguirenorwich January 24, 2014 at 8:54 am #

      Thank you Zolani. I will be at the funeral with his Savoy Cabbage friends. Maybe you could say Hallo.

  2. Sharon Levin January 22, 2014 at 3:29 pm #

    How desperately sad I am to hear of yet another senseless murder and total lack of respect of life and humanity. May we all stand together to fight against this crime and abuse.

    • tonimaguirenorwich January 24, 2014 at 8:55 am #

      Thanks Sharon.

  3. theforestscribe January 23, 2014 at 6:10 pm #

    When everyone around him was giving in to temptation, Lunga chose differently. He was a man of love and integrity and heaven knows we’re going to miss him terribly. R.I.P. little son.

    • tonimaguirenorwich January 24, 2014 at 8:57 am #

      I read the blog you wrote. Very moving.

      • theforestscribe January 25, 2014 at 6:45 pm #

        Thanks Toni, I’m glad you wrote one too. Do you mind if I add a link for your post to my blog so that my readers can see your post?

  4. wodnala March 8, 2014 at 4:21 pm #

    Reblogged this on Silly Old Blogger and commented:
    A young, hard-working family man, gunned down by township gangsters in a “revenge” killing for something his brother may have done.
    Another brutality within the brutal realities of the townships, yet too easily stereotyped; as it is inflicted on the people who live there by a small minority.
    His former employer has set up an appeal to support this young man’s widow and two young children (the youngest only a month old).
    Details can be found within this article:

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