Ex-convict welcome home party ends in bloodshed in uMlazi
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DURBAN - WHAT was supposed to be a welcome back party for ex-convict Minenhle Mhlengi Shinga ended in a massacre as unknown assailants stormed the place and opened fire, leaving five dead and three injured in W-section uMlazi on Tuesday.
In just three days, two separate shootings in uMlazi have claimed the lives of 13 people this week.
In the first incident, six people were gunned down in U-section on Sunday.
On Tuesday, three gunmen burst into a house in W-section. The victims were found with gunshot wounds to their heads. They were rushed to hospital, and one reportedly succumbed to gunshot wounds on Wednesday.
Bongani Thabethe, Minenhle Mhlengi Shinga, Mkhulu Boy Terrence Ngcobo and three victims known as Melokuhle, Brazil and Mkhulu Boy, as well as an unidentified man, were killed. Two other victims are still fighting for their lives in hospital.
It is alleged that 13 people were gathered at a house to celebrate Shinga’s release from prison when the incident occurred.
On Wednesday, a group of people believed to be Thabethe’s relatives were seen mopping up the blood in the house. They were too afraid to speak to the media.
Phili Zondi, who has a 1-year-old daughter with Shinga, said her boyfriend had returned from prison on Tuesday morning.
“He was arrested when I was still pregnant with our child. He had been in jail for over a year. He visited us in the morning. He returned in the evening, only to be killed,” Zondi said.
She refused to disclose what her boyfriend had been arrested for.
A woman at the scene said she was standing with Melokuhle outside the house when the first gunman approached. He was wearing a Covid-19 mask.
“He asked where the guns were,” the woman said.
She said she ran into the house and closed the door.
“Three men pushed the door open. They went from room to room checking who was inside. The other girls and I hid in the bathroom. They saw us and said they did not kill women.
“They shot two guys inside the house and others in the yard. Another was shot near the neighbour’s house. This morning (Wednesday) we were informed that Melokuhle had died in hospital.”
Nomathemba Ngcobo, Mkhulu Boy’s elder sister, said her brother told them he was going to visit his friends.
“Before he could enter the yard, he was shot in the forehead and died instantly. He left behind seven kids,” Ngcobo said.
In another incident at uMlazi H-section, a few metres away from where the mass murder happened, an unidentified man succumbed to gunshot wounds.
Resident Phindile Nkomo said the man came to her house asking for help. He said he was from Chatsworth, visiting his friend in uMlazi.
“He was bleeding. He had been shot in the buttocks. We asked for his name and his family’s contact details. He refused to give the information. He died outside my house before an ambulance could arrive,” Nkomo said.
An aluminium door and a window in Nkomo’s sister’s house were broken. At least two bullet holes could be seen on the wall close to the door. A trail of blood could be seen between the houses.
Nkomo said the police picked up five cartridges next to her sister’s house.
Police spokesperson Brigadier Jay Naicker said police were investigating the murders.
W-section ward councillor Amon Dladla condemned the killings and said as community leaders they did not know the motive for the mass murders.
“We do not have the information yet. We will wait for the police investigations,” Dladla said.
U-section ward councillor Bhekisisa Mjadu said the killing of six people in the same place at the same time was the first of its kind in his ward.
“The community is not telling us what they know in connection with the killings. They say they do not know, while others say they would rather not talk. This is really not helping,” Mjadu said.
He added that lockdown regulations were also complicating things, because under normal circumstances, they would have called a community meeting.
“With mass meetings, there is always someone who is willing to speak. In most cases when people do not want to speak, it is because of fear.”
The Police Ministry said it was shocked at the incidents. Police Minister Bheki Cele is expected to visit the uMlazi police station on Thursday, as well as the crime scenes.
Thirty-seven 9mm cartridges, two spent bullets and a live round of ammunition were found at the crime scene.
Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Peggy Nkonyeni condemned these acts of violence and called for the police to speed up investigations to get to the bottom of the murders.
“Reports suggest that a group of people were in a house when three unknown gunmen, armed with 9mm pistols attacked them. The victims sustained serious injuries to the head and upper body. The three who were injured were rushed to a nearby hospital for emergency medical attention,” Nkonyeni said.
“What worries me most is that the majority of people who were killed were very young. I can’t even start to imagine how their families are receiving the sad news. I send my deepest condolences to the families of the deceased and assure the community that the police are looking into these sporadic crimes.”