Durban - All they want is peace and stability, but for the past six months, residents of Glebelands Hostel near uMlazi say they have been living in fear after more than a dozen murders - and allegedly no arrests made
They are also worried that residents are being evicted from their flats without explanation.
The latest attack was on Tuesday evening when the leader of hostel dwellers’ organisation Ubunye Bamahostela, Bongani Mthembu, was shot at several times by unknown men. Four gunmen carrying R5 and AK-47 assault rifles tried to kill him, but the attempt failed, leaving him with a bullet wound to the leg.
About 20 bullets were fired and two people sustained minor injuries when they took cover from the hail of bullets. The situation remains tense in the area and some residents are gunning for Ward 76 councillor Mshiyeni Mzobe (ANC) for allegedly not helping to bring about stability.
Mthembu said he was leaving a group of friends when the men pounced.
“They were standing in strategic positions and there was one who was just about 5m from me. I saw the machine gun and I turned around,” he said.
“As I was moving away from the gunman, there was rapid gunfire and a shot hit me in the leg. Everyone was running for cover and I can’t tell how all of those bullets missed me,” he said. “I guess my dying time has not come yet because at 5m you can’t survive with only one bullet to the leg from a hail of gunfire.”
One of the three cars parked close to the shooting was riddled with bullets. Two others also had bullet holes.
“Everything happened so fast that I can’t tell if the other three gunmen had opened fire,” Mthembu said. “This is the life we live here and the police are not serious about bringing peace and stability in the hostel. If they were, they would be following on the leads given by witnesses in some shooting incidents in the area.”
Mthembu, who has lived at the hostel since 1983, said that from 2006 there had been differences on how community structures should be formulated and operated.
“When the municipality announced that it was increasing rent by 100 percent, we said no because this was never communicated to us. We decided to form committees for each of the 30 blocks, each with its chairperson. For some reason, we had different views on how to deal with the rent issue, but in the end we won,” he said.
He accused Mzobe of having led a campaign to disband block chairpersons without consultation. When contacted, Mzobe said he was busy. When asked when he could be called again, he replied: “I said I’m busy,” and hung up.
ANC provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala said the situation at the hostel was being attended to.
“That is a very sad situation and it is getting our full attention. We have engaged Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Willies Mchunu to intervene… those people need all the protection they can get against dubious characters who claim to be acting in the best interest of the residents,” said Zikalala.
When questioned about the residents’ allegation that Mzobe was not helping the situation, Zikalala said he could not comment on that.
The MEC’s spokesman, Kwanele Ncalane, said a team had been assigned to engage with all role-players.
Provincial police spokesman Captain Thulani Zwane said a case of attempted murder had been opened, but that no arrests had been made.
“Additional police have been deployed in the hostel… for 24 hours,” he said last night. “A task team has been formed to investigate all the cases reported from the hostel.”
Zwane said there had been arrests for previous shootings but could not give statistics.