Nine people shot dead at Clare Estate informal settlement in Durban
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DURBAN - Two children between the ages of 5 and 9 are among the nine people killed in a mass shooting at the Clare Estate informal settlement on Saturday.
A girl, Thandolwethu Mathangana, 5, and boy Yanga Mathangana, 10, were shot in their mother’s house at about 10pm. Their mother narrowly escaped death because she had gone to the shop five minutes before gunmen burst into the house and shot them.
The two children were with their father, Ncedani Mndaweni, who was also killed. A relative said the image of the children’s bodies being removed from the scene was devastating and the pain of their deaths would never go away. Six people were killed in that house before the gunmen moved into another home and shot two more people, and then shot a third person, Sphelele Maphisa, in his home.
Yesterday, community members said the people who were killed had no link to one another. At the house where Maphisa was killed, community members gathered in large groups, watching on as police processed the scene.
The children’s relative, who declined to be named, said she was asleep at about 10pm on Saturday when she heard a knock on the door.
“When I opened the door it was my cousin, crying. She said her children had been killed. She had left the house five minutes earlier to go to the shops and had not bumped into anyone going towards the direction of her house. She heard the gunshots and when she returned home, she found that her children had been killed, as well as her boyfriend.”
The others in the home who were killed were a man, only referred to as “Small”, a woman called “Nowinter”, and Hombakazi Baliso.
The relative said they were puzzled by the motive for the shootings. “We do not know what led to this attack, it was all random people who were killed here,” she said.
“I am traumatised, I can’t sleep, the image of the bodies being taken out of the house is haunting me.”
Maphisa’s relative, who did not want to be named, could barely contain his grief. He said he was trying to make sense of the murder.
He said Maphisa, who hailed from Msinga, was not a person who associated himself with dangerous people or situations.
“What happened here is very painful, we don’t know what led to this, he was a quiet person,” said the relative.
While most of the bodies had been removed by early yesterday, Maphisa’s body was still in the house by mid-afternoon as he was only discovered yesterday morning.
Describing the shooting, the man said: “I heard the gunshots at around 10pm, there were many shots fired, there must have been around 10-12 shots fired, but there was no sound of people screaming, so initially I thought that it was just someone that was playing with a gun.
“I only learnt in the morning that some people were killed during the shooting, but I did not know that my cousin was one of the people who had been killed,” he said.
Abahlali baseMjondolo said they were not aware of the massacre and expressed their shock about the attack.
Police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele confirmed the shootings. She said the incidents took place in three different houses.
She said the murders had taken place at the Palmiet Road informal settlement in Clare Estate and that the community believed that the suspects were two men. She said all of the victims were shot in the head and that 9mm cartridges were found at the scenes.