Straight and nar­row road to mur­der

Ex-gang leader fea­tured on book dies in front of daugh­ter

Sunday Times - - News Gangsterism - By PHILANI NOMBEMBE

● 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

Pic­ture: Esa Alexan­der

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’.

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