A terrified schoolboy has been shot dead in a hail of 22 bullets by gunmen thought to be taking part in a horrific gang initiation in South Africa.
Aswin Jonas, 12, was hit 11 times by the two attackers who are thought to have murdered him for nothing more than passing a rite of passage to earn club colours.
His family Pastor Vincent Alexander told the Daily Voice that the Grade 5 primary school pupil was the innocent victim of a random gang-related attack in Parow, Cape Town.
The youngster was part of a group guarding cars at the Elsies River mosque for those worshippers praying inside at 9.25pm on Friday when he was murdered.
South African police spokesperson Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana confirmed: ‘A 12-year-old boy was found with multiple gunshot wounds to his body and he died due to his injuries.
‘A case of murder has been opened and a team of police detectives are following up on a number of strong leads and the circumstances of the killing are being investigated.’
A witness told the Daily Voice that the Jonas family were ‘traumatised’ by his death and that Aswin was seen being chased by two men who ‘shot him till their guns were empty’.
He said a group of boys aged seven to 12 were guarding cars at the mosque while Muslims prayed inside when two men opened fire and their victim ran for safety inside the gates.
But he died after being hit 11 times in just a few terrifying seconds in a pool of blood on the pavement.
The youngster was part of a group guarding cars at the Elsies River mosque for those worshippers praying inside at 9.25pm on Friday
Pastor Alexander was quoted by the Daily Voice as saying: ‘From what we heard, the shooting may have been part of a gang initiation. It is sickening and I hope the authorities catch them.
‘The gangs make these boys go out and shoot random people and as long as they kill and it’s talked about then they can join the gang. Police detectives are on the hunt for his killers.
‘I knew Aswin as part of my youth programme held after school and the boy was an innocent and neither he nor his family have any affiliations to the gangs in the area.
‘This is a great tragedy especially as Aswin who is one of the poorer children in our community from a humble family was trying to become something and worked hard,’ he said.
Some 20,000 people – an average of 52 a day – are brutally murdered in South Africa each year and it is now rated as one of the most dangerous countries in the world.