Cape Town – The mass shootings that claimed the lives of 13 people in Khayelitsha broke out after members belonging to one of the suspected extortion gangs circulated an image of the leader of their rival gang lying on the ground with a gunshot wound.
This is according to a source with knowledge of the incident which left five other people wounded.
Nine people were shot and killed at different locations in Site B on Saturday and four others in hospital later succumbed to their injuries, bringing the death toll to 13.
The source said the shootings were in retaliation after the alleged gang leader was shot dead while collecting a “protection fee” from a Somali-owned spaza shop.
He said those behind the leader’s killing were hiding behind the counter at the shop. They were identified by the other gang through a shoe which was visible in a circulated picture, he said.
The Cape Times has seen the image of the man. This publication was also shown another image of the alleged shooters posing with guns.
They were among the 11 suspects detained when police pounced on a Sea Point hotel yesterday morning.
The Cape Times has also established that one of the 11 suspects allegedly streamed a Facebook live video from the hotel, boasting about the alcohol they were drinking at about 9.30pm on Saturday, hours after the mass shootings.
The shootings have left Khayelitsha residents overcome with fear with some refusing to be interviewed about the incident.
A community leader who asked to remain anonymous said: “I saw the pictures but haven't heard the story behind them.
’’We must also understand that this is still fresh and people are scared to come forward and that is what the perpetrators want, they are fear mongers.”
Speaking to the media at the Site B police station yesterday, provincial police commissioner Thembisile Patekile said that more information was expected to be revealed as the investigation progressed.
“What is interesting is that we tracked them down to a hotel. They were not in Khayelitsha, they went to book themselves into a hotel and that's something that boggles our minds.
“We have now 11 people that we are questioning and we still have time to before the 48 hours for a court appearance is reached and we will establish whether they will be linked to the cases or there are some that are going to be released,” he said.
Police spokesperson Novela Potelwa said that the task team comprising Lockdown II forces, intelligence officials, organised crime detectives and a combat contingent pounced on the suspects at the Sea Point hotel about 3am.
Police Minister Bheki Cele applauded the work by the police of detaining those allegedly responsible, saying: “The 72-hour activation plan is yet again proving to be an effective tool in the apprehension of those responsible for violent crimes.
“We believe these arrests will lead us to more answers surrounding the heinous acts linked to extortion and are a major development in our efforts to combat the crime of extortion. We owe it to the consistent and hard work of all those in the multi-disciplinary team that has brought about this breakthrough.”
Policing expert Eldred de Klerk said the brazenness of the attack was worrying.
“The fact that it appears they went on a rampage and without regard for people’s lives is cause for concern.
“Usually gang members know those they are fighting and their targets. The fact that they were willing to kill innocent people should be a concern.”