A heated argument in the early hours of yesterday, allegedly over a woman, led to an off-duty policeman pulling out a gun and shooting a man in Florida Road, Morningside.
The victim, whose age and identity have not been revealed, was taken to hospital suffering severe blood loss.
According to SAPS spokesman Colonel Vincent Mdunge, the shooting occurred just after 2am. No one else was injured despite it being a bumper evening for the bars, restaurants and nightclubs in Durban’s “Little New Orleans”.
The violent outburst occurred within metres of the Cubana Restaurant, and opposite upmarket hotel Le Quartier.
While guests slept on undisturbed at the hotel, the management of Cubana allegedly went to the assistance of the injured man and provided the police with details of the incident. However, staff on duty yesterday said they had been instructed by the manager not to discuss the matter with the media.
“We assisted the police, but further than that we cannot comment,” said the manageress who declined to identify herself.
Patrolling private security staff were at the scene just after the police. Blue Security’s MD, Darryn le Grange said: “My security officers tell me there had been a very acrimonious exchange between the men, regarding a woman they were both interested in.”
Marco Santonicello, co-owner of the popular Spiga DÓro restaurant, said his venue had been packed, but the shooting had been far enough away that patrons had not witnessed the bloodshed.
“This is not good; not good at all,” he said. “Durban is in the middle of a bumper weekend with all the tourists from upcountry who have come to enjoy the Top Gear Festival, and the world is focused on us.
“It is most unfortunate that a policeman takes the law into his own hands, and in such an iconic street in our city. Tourism is our lifeblood, and we don’t want patrons to feel at risk when they are enjoying themselves,” Santonicello said.
Managers from several other businesses expressed their disapproval, with comments ranging from “Durban is a disgrace” to “why on earth are off-duty policemen allowed to carry their guns?”
Mdunge said the 30-year-old policeman was arrested at the scene and will be charged with attempted murder. He is due to appear in court early this week.
On Saturday rivulets of blood were still visible in the road and on the pavement.