Three homes in Mitchells Plain have been petrol-bombed in as many weeks, with the family in one saying it is the work of vigilantes.
That family is so terrified of another attack that they have resorted to sleeping with buckets of water next to their beds.
One of the victims said the house had been targeted after a Pagad (People Against Gangsterism and Drugs) leader claimed it was a drug den. The other two homes were also alleged drug dens, sources in the area said.
Police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk said the first incident had occurred in Colorado Park on June 30, the second in Beacon Valley on July 7 and the third also in Colorado Park last Thursday.
During the third incident, a two-bedroom house was gutted. The owner was at home, with her boarders – a couple, their mother, and children aged six months and nine years – when the first bomb struck at 1.30am.
Boarder Shanaaz Rinquest, 47, said she had been sleeping in the lounge. Rinquest, who is disabled after a stroke, heard a loud bang and glass shatter. The petrol bomb fell on her and she knocked it away.
Then another bomb crashed through the kitchen window.
Her daughter, Shamimah Miller, and her husband scrambled to grab their baby and alert the house owner, their other child and their mother. By the time everyone was accounted for, a wall of flames blocked their path to the front door.
With flames leaping around them, they had managed to reach the back door and escape, said Miller. Shots had been fired through the kitchen window as neighbours tried to douse the flames. Most of their possessions had been destroyed.
The house owner was not available for comment.
Tatum Manuel, who has taken in the Millers, said the wrong people had been targeted. She fears her home will be next, even though she does not sell drugs.
Everyone slept with buckets of water next to their beds so
“if the bombs come, we’ll be able to put out the fire before it kills us”.
All the attacks took place in the early hours on Thursday, followed by shots fired into the houses.
Van Wyk said police had not identified suspects or a motive.
Miller said the house owner had been accused of selling drugs by a Pagad leader. Several other sources denied drugs were sold at the house. The Pagad leader lives in the same street.
However, regional Pagad leader Osman Sahib said the organisation was not involved in the bombings.
He said all of Pagad’s activities were done within the law. “But whatever happens afterwards, Pagad will not take responsibility. The state must take responsibility.”
He said “nobody likes vigilantism” but for some it is a last resort.
Michael Jacobs, chairman of the Mitchells Plain Community Policing cluster board, said the police and community structures, such as neighbourhood watches, had enjoyed huge success in closing drug dens in recent years.
But Community Safety MEC Dan Plato today described the drug trade in the city as “still the root of all evil”, and that the bombings were not isolated and continued to take place “across the city”. He said these were most often part of turf wars between rival drug lords and gangs and not necessarily vigilante action