Police shoot 11 dead
In a bloody weekend in Durban, police shot and killed 11 men in three incidents. Seven men died in one incident alone. Police said they were all crime suspects.
The shootings come as the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) is investigating the killing of at least 45 suspects by members of the disbanded Durban Organised Crime Unit in KZN.
The weekend’s action by the police Tactical Response Team and Inanda Crime Prevention Unit was praised by KwaZulu-Natal Community Safety MEC Willies Mchunu, who said: “I commend the police for the good work. These incidents once again prove that our police are dedicated in protecting our communities at all cost.
“This is a strong warning to all criminals that police are going to face fire with fire in deadly circumstances.”
But KwaZulu-Natal violence monitor Mary de Haas said she was concerned that the Tactical Response Team, formed by now-suspended police national commissioner General Bheki Cele, was involved in the killings.
“They must be disbanded and the ICD should take over the investigation. Police should never be allow to handle the investigation,” said De Haas.
All the shootings happened in Inanda, north of Durban, on Saturday. Officers shot and killed seven suspects who had gathered for a drinking spree in a house in the Amaoti area at about 5pm.
Police went to the house to investigate reports that the suspects had occupied the house illegally and were armed and dangerous. Police say the suspects opened fire on them. Mdunge said police returned fire, but none of the police officers was hurt.
Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Vincent Mdunge said two unlicensed 9mm pistols and an AK-47 rifle had been recovered.
The owner of the house, Thabisile Mhlongo, denied complaining to the police about her house being illegally occupied.
Mhlongo said she had been renting the house to one of the men shot dead, who was identified only as Saphulelo “Rasta” from Mbizana in the Eastern Cape. Neighbours described Saphulelo as a quiet man who worked for a construction company.
“I had been renting this house to Saphulelo for the past three months. I did not know the other men, who were killed with him,” said Mhlongo.
However, two other residents said police had done an “excellent job” by killing the seven.
“We were very scared of them because they would walk around the area brandishing firearms,” said a resident.
In the first incident early on Saturday, three suspects were killed after police had received a tip-off about nine men who were terrorising community members at a tavern. The men had allegedly robbed the tavern owner of R5 000 and stolen cash from patrons.
After the shooting, five of their alleged accomplices were in a critical condition at Mahatma Gandhi Hospital in Phoenix, while another managed to flee.
“When police arrived the suspects fired shots, which forced the police to retaliate. Two men died at the scene, while another died in hospital.
“At about 9am, a suspect was killed in another section of Inanda after he had also tried to shoot at the police,” said Mdunge.
Police had been alerted to two armed men who were terrorising residents. Mdunge said when police arrived, one suspect escaped, but the other fired at the police, who returned fire and killed him. They recovered a CZ 7.65 mm pistol from the suspect.
After the shootings, Mdunge commended police action against armed suspects.
“The shooting by police is a justifiable homicide in the eyes of the law. We will never allow our police officers to be killed by criminals while they are able to protect themselves. Police were equal to the task,” he said.
Mdunge said police had gone to the house after receiving a complaint about a group of men who had illegally occupied it. When police arrived they were met by a hail of bullets.
He said the killings were being investigated by the ICD .
ICD spokesman Moses Dlamini said his unit was investigating, and he would comment after the conclusion of the investigation.