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Balaclava suspects in the dock

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mo ricciardo balaclava

Durban - Four alleged members of the notorious balaclava gang, which has been terrorising residents in several Durban suburbs, have been arrested by the police during an alleged foiled hijacking.

The gang members, described as extremely dangerous and violent, have been on a crime spree in Mayville, Puntans Hill, Asherville and Malvern in recent months.

They were also allegedly linked to an armed robbery last month at the home of Amy Kistnasamy, chief prosecutor at the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court.

Kistnasamy’s son, Provain, 28, was pistol-whipped and had to have seven stitches to his head. His girlfriend suffered a fractured foot and knee while trying to escape from the gang.

The four suspects, represented by advocate Joe Wolmarans, appeared in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday on charges of attempted murder, possession of unlicensed firearms and armed robbery.

Warrant Officer Ivan Padayachee, of the Provincial Projects Unit, opposed bail.

In his affidavit to the court, Padayachee said the suspects had been linked to serious offences, had resisted arrest and had shot at the police.

The matter was adjourned until Friday for judgment.

A police source said the suspects had been arrested during a foiled hijacking in Mayville last week.

“Three of the suspects attempted to hijack a couple in the driveway of their Malvern home. Two more suspects were in a getaway vehicle, a white Hyundai 120i.”

Mayville police were patrolling the area at the time.

The source said that when the suspects saw the police van, they tried to flee.

“Police gave chase and the suspects opened fire. A back-up police vehicle was dispatched and after a… chase, four of the suspects were arrested.”

Four unlicensed firearms were allegedly seized and the Hyundai was traced to a hijacking on the Berea in October.

One suspect is still on the run.

The suspects are believed to be from Umlazi, Newlands West and New Germany.

This gang will not hesitate to shoot or kill,” said the source. “They proved this when they opened fire on police.”

The source said the gang was linked to Kistnasamy’s house robbery by the manner in which they carried out their crimes. “In all these cases, they brandished the same calibre of firearms, wore balaclavas, were extremely aggressive and assaulted their victims.”

The source added that the gang had been linked to other cases, but the victims were too afraid to participate in identity parades or to testify in court.

Last month Kistnasamy called on citizens to rally against crime after the robbery at her home.

“The police do their jobs and investigations are wrapped up, but witnesses refuse to testify,” she said.

“This means criminals walk free. We need to fight back and not be afraid. Testifying can put them behind bars for a long time. If not, the criminals can go out and hurt someone else.”

Yesterday, Kistnasamy came face to face with her son’s alleged attackers in court.

“It is a relief for my son and his girlfriend that the suspects have been arrested,” she said.

“For them, they feel safer knowing these thugs are not walking the streets.”

The couple had done an identity parade last week to point out their attackers.

“Fortunately the entire parade was conducted using a two-way mirror at Durban central police station. But for the children it was traumatic. It was like reliving the whole experience again.”

Kistnasamy added that although several families had participated in the identity parade, others had declined to be part of it.

“This annoyed me. I even called one of the families and told them we were all there to support them. They refused, saying they were afraid the suspects would want revenge.”

She said people complained all the time about crime and the police not doing enough.

“Here we have a case where police have worked around the clock to arrest this gang. It’s up to us, the victims, to ensure they go behind bars,” she said.

“This gang is accused of some serious crimes. I was shocked and disgusted that victims were refusing to testify or give statements against them.” - Daily News


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