DURBAN - Drug wars, retaliation and revenge are the leading motives behind the death of 531 people in eThekwini Municipality since April 2021.
This was said by Police Minister Bheki Cele during a briefing on Wednesday on some of the police investigations into recent mass killings, the majority of which took place in eThekwini Municipality, followed by uMgungundlovu Municipality.
He said KwaZulu-Natal recorded 229 incidents of multiple murders between April 2021 and January 23, 2022.
Incidents occurred in Richmond, KwaMakhuta, Inanda and uMlazi.
Cele said other motives were robbery either at a home or a business while arguments were the third-highest causative factor for multiple killings.
Cele said many victims were gunned down on streets, in fields or while inside a mode of transport, adding that the recent murders of 14 people in Inanda and Richmond sent shock waves across the country and were unacceptable.
KZN had overtaken the Western Cape as the most problematic province. Cele said he was accompanied by senior management to find out “what exactly is going on and how far are police from bringing to book the perpetrators of these heinous crimes”.
He said he had been inundated with calls from various concerned sectors of society, urging the SAPS to act fast, so that the province did not erupt in violence, fuelled by such attacks.
Cele said families of the deceased were looking for answers, and searching for justice and closure.
Between April 2021 and January 2022, 1 372 firearms were seized through various police operations.
Cele said when guns were removed from the wrong hands, lives were spared. “We also trust that the courts will, after securing convictions, mete out appropriate sentences fit for those crimes.”
On Tuesday, the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union spokesperson Richard Mamabolo said the union was concerned about the reported underspending both within visible policing and detective services at a time when there were budgetary cuts.
The last annual report for the SAPS indicated that allocations would be reduced by R15.8 billion this year, and by a further R11.5bn in the coming year as part of the government’s cost-cutting measures.
Mamabolo said the current SAPS staff complement was at 177 794; only 141 090 members worked under the Police Act, while 36 704 worked under the Public Service Act. Within those under the Police Act, there were about 50 000 trained officers based at national, provincial, district and station offices working within logistics, human resources, finance and in other support areas, all while there was an increased shortage of boots on the ground where crime was taking place.
MPL Sharon Hoosen, the DA KZN spokesperson on Transport and Community Safety, said KZN was once again overshadowed by the high murder rate, with a very slow turnaround strategy.
“The SAPS has a huge task in this province and if Cele is serious about reducing crime then we need to see some drastic action,” said Hoosen, who added that specialised drug units were fast becoming obsolete.
Some recent cases:
- Four died in a drive-by shooting while seated under a tree in KwaMakhuta on January 23. Strong leads.
- Eight people were killed on January 14 in Richmond at a homestead in Esigcakeni. Seven people have been arrested. Police found firearms and ammunition.
- Six people were killed in Inanda on January 14. One person has been arrested. A firearm was also recovered.