Philippi patrollers 'gang target after alleged vigilante slayings'
Cape Town - The gunmen behind the killing of 11 people in Marikana informal settlement in Philippi East were targeting community members who patrol the area at night.
This is according to one of the patrollers who survived the deadly shooting.
The survivors say they escaped because the gunmen, about 20 “gang members”, ran out of ammunition.
Community leaders in Marikana, who met at a secret location to find a way to address the recent shootings, said the gang split into groups of not less than five people and made their way into the informal settlement before 7pm on Friday.
According to Nzuzo Gugweni, owner of Emaweleni shebeen, where four of the 11 people were shot dead, the gang was notorious. He said a security guard who was hitch-hiking on the road was also shot dead.
Four more people were killed in Rolihlahla section.
The bodies of two other people were found in the alleys of the informal settlement. They had been shot.
Gugweni said the shootings were acts of retaliation after community night patrol members had allegedly killed seven of the gang’s friends in suspected vigilante attacks.
At the beginning of September three suspected criminals were set alight. Two days later a suspected criminal was stoned to death.
That same week the patrollers allegedly killed three suspected robbers.
Gugweni said he survived because he was not in the shebeen’s main room when the gang attacked.
“The patrollers are targeting criminals. In return the criminals are shooting those who are patrolling.
“In the process, innocent people are caught in the middle.
“It’s not safe living here, especially us men. We are scared.
“Some men I know, me included, have abandoned their homes because we don’t know when these guys will come again,” said Gugweni.
“Those who survived were lucky the gang ran out of bullets. Otherwise the death toll would have been double.”
He added that the survivors had been pistol-whipped.
Marikana residents say they have lost faith in the police, forcing them to take matters into their own hands.
Police vans could be seen patrolling the area yesterday, but residents still did not feel safe.
Police spokesperson Frederick van Wyk said the spate of serious and violent crime experienced in Marikana and the greater Nyanga area “indicates that there are far too many firearms in the wrong hands”.
He said that during September alone 196 firearms had been seized and had led to the arrest of 218 suspects, with the Nyanga Cluster leading with 46 firearms confiscated.
“At the same time community members are urged to refrain from taking the law into their own hands.
“Meeting violence with further violence can only lead to increased criminality,” said Van Wyk.
Provincial commissioner Khombinkosi Jula has placed Philippi East station precinct under the command of a deputy provincial commissioner, Mpumelelo Manci.
He will be supported by intelligence operatives, the Tactical Response Team and the National Intervention Unit, according to police spokesperson Novela Potelwa.
“Forces on the ground are executing search operations,” she said.
Nyanga Community Policing Forum chairperson Martin Makasi said: “No doubt those responsible for Friday’s shooting will deal with the law.
“We condemn any vigilante. We call on residents not to take the law into their own hands, and to work with the police.”