Police vehicles stoned, cops chased away from gangsters' funeral
DURBAN - The death of four men, believed to be well-known hijackers targeting luxury and fast cars to use as getaway cars in robberies, brought New Town A in Inanda to a state of chaos during their vigils and burials at the weekend.
The ceremonies caused almost the same drama as during the wild-west type shootout that unfolded between the men-believed to be on their way to commit a robbery in a hijacked Mercedes Benz-and the police on the N2 northbound freeway near Nandi Drive two Friday's ago.
The police spotted the car with five occupants and attempted to stop it, but the suspects opened fire at the police while fleeing.
The incident caused major traffic jams and ended with four suspects dead, one severely injured and two police officers injured. Motorist Debbie Stephen, who was caught up in the crash, was seriously injured and is still in hospital.
Three of the men who were shot and killed were Thulani Cele, 30, Lebohang Magwaza, 27, and Mthokozisi Khafu, 33.
Police who were deployed to monitor their burials were stoned.
And several police cars were damaged when a group of people attacked them during a night vigil of two of the men on Friday.
The crowd allegedly threw stones at the police, threatening them and telling them to leave. The fifth suspect is recovering in hospital under police guard.
Since the news of the death of the four alleged hijackers, the community of Ematendeni in New Town A have had mixed feelings about the incident with some threatening to deal with the police and those who "sold" their brothers out.
A message from an unknown source circulated through social media, warning people not to use the N2 at, Nandi Drive claiming that there would be a night vigil across the freeway and the prospect of possible violence instilled fear in motorists.
Thandeka Ndlovu, a call centre manager in Gateway said she did not go to work on Friday night after receiving the message on WhatsApp.
“After the drama that unfolded when these guys were killed on the N2, I spent an hour on the traffic jam and I didn't want to go through that again," she said.
Another night vigil of the third suspect, Khafu, who was well known in the community, was held on Saturday night at his home in Inanda.
Police spokesperson Thembeka Mbhele said there were no reports on any night vigils held on the N2 freeway. However, police had been deployed in
Inanda since Friday, when the night vigils were expected to begin, to monitor the situation.
During a night vigil of two of the suspects at Inanda, police were stoned and their vehicles were damaged, she said.
“There were enough police deployed in the area to monitor the situation during the night vigils. The police managed to stabilise and monitor the situation,”said Mbhele.
On Saturday night, extra police had to be deployed to Inanda after reports of shots being randomly fired.
People in the neighbouring Ntuzuma township said they could not sleep on Saturday night because of the noise of gunshots that were fired until the early hours of Sunday morning.
Khafu was buried yesterday, which leaves the police with one suspect in hospital who once discharged, will face several charges, including attempted murder, possession of property suspected to be stolen as well as possession of unlicensed firearm and ammunition.
Police spokesperson, Thulani Zwane, on Sunday confirmed that the case was now with Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid).