Straight and narrow road to murder
Ex-gang leader featured on book dies in front of daughter
● Fabian Adams’s short life was one of almost inescapable tragedy, and a week before Christmas it ended in the same way.
The 32-year-old, whose portrait is on the cover of a bestselling book about Cape Town’s murderous gangs in 2016, was gunned down in front of his five-year-old daughter on the streets of Heideveld.
Don Pinnock, the author of Gang Town, said he was shattered at the news of his death, which came shortly after Adams had turned his life around.
“Fabian was a very nice guy but still living in the gang area,” said Pinnock. “I think he became a gang negotiator, some kind of conflict-reduction [figure].
“I don’t know why he was shot. In the gangs, grudges get held. People go to jail but they run the risk of revenge killings when they come out.”
Pinnock framed the cover of the book and gave it to Adams. This week, it hung from a nail in Adams’s bedroom, and Pinnock said he believed his photograph of the former gangster pointing a pistol had sparked the success of the book, which has sold 10,000 copies.
“It’s quite an academic book, and it is history, and neither the publisher nor myself thought that it would do so well,” he said.
Pinnock met Adams through Restore, an NGO promoting restorative justice among inmates at Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town.
The NGO’s Celeste van Es, who worked closely with Adams during his incarceration and kept in touch after his release, said she felt as if she had lost a brother.
“I met Fabian in prison, he was a [prison gang] captain in 2015. I did a leadership programme with the juveniles in prison and then he came into my class,” said Van Es.
“I challenged him a lot and he kept coming back. I had to break through a barrier [with] a strange guy who didn’t really want to share anything with anybody or allow people to know him.
“He ended up being my brother. After he was released, he called me his sister. So it was quite a special bond we had.”
Van Es said Adams had been arrested for drug offences. He was a member of the notorious Americans gang but was no longer actively involved.
“My heart is sore because I know his circumstances, where he lived wasn’t easy.
“The other guys in the group always looked up to him and always had a lot of respect for him. Fabian always tried to encourage others while he tried to change his life,” said Van Es.
On Thursday, Adams’s common-law wife Nazeema Marthinus, 34, battled to calm their tearful daughter while scores of people walked in and out of the flat.
Marthinus said Adams been staying out of trouble and had converted to Islam before being shot. Although he had been in and out of prison during the 17 years they were together, he had started dedicating his time to his family and had found a job as a security guard.
“He was one of the gang members but he was no longer active. They used to come here with their problems and he would sort them out,” said Marthinus.
“On the day he was shot, he was watching TV and then someone came and told him that the other ‘mafia’ is going to come here and make peace so he must come. He just went down.
“I went past them when I went to my mother’s house, and they were talking. It wasn’t even two minutes after I had entered my mother’s house when I heard people shouting. I came out and my neighbours told me that my daughter had witnessed the shooting.”
Marthinus said she understood Adams’s alleged murderers had been apprehended. Her priority at the moment, she said, was to get counselling for her children.
Two men, both 30, appeared in Athlone magistrate’s court on January 3 charged with the murder. They were remanded in custody.
After he was released, he called me his sister. So it was quite a special bond we had
Celeste van As Member of restorative justice NGO
Nazeema Marthinus in the flat in Heideveld, Cape Town, where she lived with Fabian Adams, whose picture is on the cover of the book ‘Gang Town’.