Durban - THE anti-crime “lockdown” across the Durban region on Saturday night came too late for a South African Navy officer who was shot dead during a hijacking in one of the areas that participated in the initiative.
According to police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele, Chief Petty Officer Wilson Govender, 51, was accosted by two men as he entered his home in Kies Avenue, Reservoir Hills, on Saturday.
“They fatally shot at him and hijacked his Toyota Corolla, which was later recovered in Pinetown. A case of murder and carjacking was opened at the Sydenham police station for investigation,” she said.
Mbele said police had not made any arrests.
According to Netcare 911 paramedics, Govender sustained a gunshot wound to the chest and was in a critical condition when they arrived.
Spokesperson Shawn Herbst said a full life support resuscitation was initiated on Govender, but his injuries were too severe and he died at the scene.
Reservoir Hills Community Policing Forum (CPF) chairperson Pravin Gounden said there had been a spike in hijackings in the area this month.
“Our area has always been a hijacking hot spot. However, things had quietened down for a bit and then all of a sudden this month there was this spike,” he said.
Gounden said there had also been a number of attempted hijackings in the area this month. He said residents were on high alert.
Gounden said there had been eight hijackings this month, as opposed to one each in January and February. There were also four attempted hijackings this month, including two on the same day.
Two hijacking victims were beaten up and one sustained a fractured cheek.
“In most of these cases the assailants carry rifles. They seem to be an organised group. We are under siege. We need to have additional specialised police teams in the area,” he said.
Gounden said Govender’s fatal hijacking led to more residents participating in the Durban lockdown later that night.
The lockdown was a clampdown on crime in Durban by residents across the city. It involved the entrances and exits to suburbs and intersections being manned from 8pm to 10pm, and CPF members and other residents patrolling their suburbs.
Gounden said 175 Reservoir Hills residents took part in the shutdown because many were up in arms following Govender’s murder.
“We took to the streets because we were trying to use the lockdown as a springboard to get more of our residents involved in fighting crime. In our area there are streets with certain pockets that are vulnerable, and these hijackings take place during the day when most people are at work,” he said.
South African Navy Vice-Admiral Mosiwa Hlongwane expressed shock at Govender’s murder, and sent his condolences to his colleagues and family.
Spokesperson Commander Greyling van den Berg said Govender had joined the SA Navy in January 1985.
“This means he had 34 years of service with us. He was working in the logistics environment at the naval base in Durban. In the navy you get various masterings in different fields, so Govender would have been working in various capacities within the logistics environment,” he said.
Govender’s brother Richard said the family were not in a position to speak to the media. Govender leaves his wife and two children; a son who is a lifeguard and a daughter who is with the SA Navy in Saldanha.