Another shooting rocks Wentworth

By ZAINUL DAWOOD Time of article published Jun 22, 2016

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Durban - Days before a planned peace march in Wentworth, bullets have once again flown in the troubled south Durban suburb.

Three more windows in a block of flats were struck by stray bullets after a group of men opened fire outside it in Retreat Street.

The incident follows a month-long gun battle between two gangs involved in a bitter grudge war in the Austerville area.

Now, a community leader has called for the army to step in.

Residents who spoke to the Daily News on condition of anonymity, told how the shooting took place late on Monday when about 10 men who had been prowling around between the blocks of flats and corridors suddenly opened fire on another group of men standing behind another block of flats.

A grandmother staying in the flats said she was walking home when she saw people in the car park. At first she thought they were leaving a home church service.

Seconds later, she heard shots and took cover.

She believed it to have been a well-planned incident, saying that after the first group left, a second group hung around in the corridor waiting for anyone who retaliated.

When the police arrived and the residents came out of their flats, a white Yaris drove down the road and whoever was inside the car fired several gun shots.

Residents are not sure what the motive for the shooting was but denounced that it was linked to gangsterism or drugs, but rather a grudge.

A father of three said his son told him men with guns were standing outside the family’s lounge window on the ground floor. The family took cover in the room.

In the aftermath, two windows on the second floor had bullet holes. Both bullet heads were found in the flats after they ricocheted off the inside walls of a lounge and bedroom. Another flat bathroom window was also damaged by a stray bullet.

“We are living in fear. Our children are traumatised. Very soon we will put our mattresses on the floor and use the beds as a shield. Or we have to place our furniture by the windows so we can sleep at night. The shooters just want to make a statement for name and fame. They don’t care which innocent person gets shot. To make matters worse there were only two cops on patrol,” said a resident known as Dee.

Police spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Thulani Zwane, said allegations that there were not enough police officers were baseless.

He said there were enough police at the station and other police station,s and units responded to the incident.

“When there is a serious incident in the area, other police stations can assist even if it is out of their policing area,” he said.

Another resident, identified as Jake, said four people, including a baby, were in his home when the bullet came through his window and curtains and struck the lounge wall.

Zwane said two cases of attempted murder were opened at Wentworth police station. He said no arrests had been made.

This Sunday, the community will walk in the Austerville area to highlight the UN International Day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking. Community activist, Desmond D`Sa, said the walk served no purpose.

He proposed one solution: to bring the army to seal off the area.

“Cordon off each block unexpectedly and do a proper search of cars and yards around the flats. The justice system is failing us as well. Remove the drug kingpins and jail them,” he said.

“What is the top police echelon doing about the gun problem? All licensed guns must be handed in. Government should engage with people in the community who are not biased. We need a solution before the next retaliation shooting,” D’sa lamented.

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