How one teenager's murder stunned the city when he was gunned down in Sheffield's street gang war

Jonathan Matondo
Jonathan Matondo
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It was a murder which shocked a city - a 16-year-old boy gunned down close to a children’s playground in a postcode gang war which spiralled out of control.

Jonathan Matondo was shot in his head at the Nottingham Cliff recreation ground in Burngreave, with police believing he was targeted by a rival gang.

Jonathan Matondo funeral - Simon Mulvaney

Jonathan Matondo funeral - Simon Mulvaney

The killing in October 2007 led to South Yorkshire Police chiefs revealing that armed gangs operating in Burngreave and Pitsmoor were involved in a long-running feud in the city.

Known as the S3 and S4 gangs, based on neighbouring Sheffield postcodes, they were responsible for a series of serious crimes including gun attacks and stabbings around that time.

In the two years before Jonathan’s murder, police compiled a dossier of 38 incidents, with investigations leading to the recovery of six guns.

Early on in the murder probe, detectives established that Jonathan, of Verdon Street, Burngreave, was a member of the S3 gang.

Candles for Jonathan - Steve Ellis

Candles for Jonathan - Steve Ellis

He had been brought to Sheffield as a six-year-old boy to escape a deadly civil war in his home country of the Democratic Republic of Congo but had become embroiled with a city street gang at war with another.

His family believed he wanted to become a Christian pastor, but gangster Jonathan led a double life and despite attending church he was known on the streets as ‘Venomous’ and carried a knife and a gun.

At the time of Jonathon’s death, he was serving a supervision order for a robbery committed in 2006.

There had been a shooting at a house belonging to relatives of an S4 member the night before Jonathan’s murder and just a few hours before the fatal shooting there was a failed attempt on his life when shots were fired at him while he visited a friend’s flat on Melrose Road, Pitsmoor.

Jonathan Matondo was buried in City Road cemetery - Dean Atkins

Jonathan Matondo was buried in City Road cemetery - Dean Atkins

Jonathan was fatally injured when he was shot in the head from a distance of around 60ft by a gun with a red laser device attached to pinpoint the target.

Detectives found that the same gun used to kill Jonathan had been used to fire at another S3 member’s home two months earlier.

One man stood trial for the murder twice after jurors in his first trial failed to reach a verdict.

The 19-year-old, who spent a year behind bars on remand, was acquitted after his second trial.

At the time police chiefs said they believed a number of people were involved in the assassination and that officers would ‘relentlessly pursue’ them.

But so far, nobody else has ever been charged.

Detectives believe the murder was ‘an organised and planned attack’ in which Jonathan was ‘targeted and ruthlessly killed’.

They believe a group was involved on the night of the gun attack and that irrespective of who pulled the trigger of the gun they were all involved in the plot to kill.

Jonathan’s murder was one of three killings involving S3 gang members in the space of a year, with Brett Blake, of Longley, stabbed to death and Tarek Chaiboub, of Wincobank, shot dead.

Brett’s and Tarek’s deaths were the result of a split in the S3 gang, which caused rival factions to form.

Danny Hockenhull, of Grimesthorpe, and Curtis Goring, of Firth Park, stabbed their former friend Brett to death on the dancefloor of the Uniq nightclub in Sheffield city centre after a series for tit-for-tat stabbings. Both are now serving life sentences for murder.

Tarek’s death was ordered after an attack on S3 member Junior Liversidge, who was stabbed the day after Brett’s funeral.

Tarek was blamed for passing on information which helped Junior’s attackers - Esmond Thompson, of Wincobank and Isiah Nelson, of Darnall - track him down.

Junior’s cousin, Nigel Junior Ramsey, who was known as ‘The General’ and ran the younger element of the S3 gang, ordered Tarek’s murder from behind bars - instructing his younger brother Denzil Ramsey, his next door neighbour Levan Menzies and friend Michael Chattoo, 21 to carry out the killing.

Tarek was shot at Frenchie’s barbers in Spital Street, Burngreave, in what was described at the time as like a scene from a ‘wild west’ shoot-out.

His killers were jailed for a total of 110 years in July 2009 after being found guilty of murder.

Following an investigation into South Yorkshire Police’s response to a knife attack on Tarek a few days before he was shot dead, IPCC Commissioner Nicholas Long said his murder ‘gave an insight into a culture where the carrying of weapons, violence and murder is a shocking normality’.

Anyone with information should call 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.