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Staff describe gunshots as EThekwini employee killed in his office

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Published Feb 22, 2022

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DURBAN - AN ETHEKWINI Municipality employee was shot dead at the city’s Springfield offices yesterday, raising fears about the safety of staff in the workplace.

The brazen shooting, allegedly carried out by two men, happened at the Durban Solid Waste (DSW) offices in Electron Road in Springfield Park.

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The incident has shocked political parties, city employees and trade unions, which are demanding action.

The employee’s name is known to The Mercury but will not be disclosed until the next of kin have been informed. The employee was shot several times in the head and stomach.

ALS Paramedics Medical Services said that together with the SAPS and Metro Police they arrived at the scene at Electron Road and were escorted to the patient. They found a man believed to be in his forties with fatal gunshot wounds to his body. He was declared dead at the scene, they said.

Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele said the Sydenham SAPS were investigating a case of murder.

“We can confirm that a shooting took place this afternoon at 2.15pm on Electron Road, where a male was shot by two unknown suspects. The motive for the attack is unknown at this stage,” she said.

Shocked employees, who heard the gunfire inside the building, said they heard at least four shots being fired.

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While the reason for the shooting has not yet been established, the murder comes after there was a heated meeting related to an ongoing dispute over salary increases.

“A few years ago there was a huge dispute over claims that some workers in the unit had received salary increases while others had not. There was a heated meeting yesterday morning over this issue. I believe the staff who had not received the alleged increase were demanding to know why they had been left out.

“A few hours later after that meeting, men walked into the office of this guy and shot him dead. We do not know how they got in, all we heard was shots. When we rushed into the office, he was dead,” said a source, who asked not to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the media.

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The source said staff members were traumatised and believed the working environment in the municipality was very unsafe.

EThekwini councillors were stunned by the shooting, saying it painted a deeply troubling picture of the municipality.

The DA’s Thabani Mthethwa said they had not been briefed on the shooting, and added that they would wait for the executive committee meeting expected this week.

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“At the moment all we can say is that it is very worrying that people can walk into a municipal property and commit such acts.

“The municipal manager and the deputy city manager will have to look at the security being provided. It should not be that workers are unsafe in their own working environment. If they see they are unsafe that will have a direct impact on their productivity,” said Mthethwa.

IFP leader Mdu Nkosi conveyed his condolences to the victim’s family and colleagues, saying it was shocking that something of this nature could happen inside municipal premises.

“This points to a serious problem in the municipality, and that an even bigger problem is coming – what is going on, and what is going to happen next? If people can walk in and do something like this we need to question the role of security, those letting people in through the gate and how they reacted when they heard the gunshots being fired.”

He said that apart from the criminal investigation, the municipality also needed to conduct its own investigation to establish the source of the shooting as it was not the first time an official had been shot inside municipal premises.

In 2019, a municipal employee was shot dead by gunmen at the wastewater centre on Ottawa’s (near the Phoenix area) Old Main Road.

Last year, another employee was shot dead outside the city’s premises in eMkhomazi.

Xolani Dube, of the South African Municipal Workers Union, said they had been alerted to an incident at the municipal premises, but they did not have a clear picture of what had transpired.

EThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said he was saddened about the barbaric murder of an employee while they were on duty, saying the motive behind the crime was unknown.

Kaunda called for law-enforcement agencies to move with speed and arrest the murderers.

“The police must leave no stone unturned to ensure that these criminals face the full might of the law.

“This was a family man and his family was expecting him to come home, but some rogues chose the contrary.

“We send our heartfelt condolences to the family and those who were working closely with him,” said Kaunda.

He has since asked management to arrange counselling for all employees who were affected by the incident.

THE MERCURY

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