Minister of Police Bheki Cele visiting Reuben Petersen and his four-year-old daughter Mandy Peterson. Petersen's wife, 45, died after she was caught in the middle of a gang shootout last week in Westbury. Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips/African News Agency/ANA

JOHANNESBURG - The husband of the woman who was shot dead during a gang-related shooting in Westbury said he was "very disappointed" with the police because he had had to hear from the streets that two suspects had been arrested while police were still pursuing two others.

Widower Reuben Petersen said: “Why do I have to hear from the streets that people who shot my wife have been arrested. No one came to inform me, I am very disappointed with all of you, including the government”.

His 45-year-old wife, Heather Petersen, died after she was caught in the middle of a gang shootout last week as she walked in the streets of Westbury, near the Rahima Moosa Children's Hospital. 

A 10-year-old girl was also hurt in the shooting and had to be hospitalised. She has since recovered and was said to be "fine".

The shooting on Friday was thought to be a drug-related feud, possibly over turf.

The shootings sparked protests which culminated in running battles with the police. Residents, who accuse the local police of being in cahoots with drug dealers, threw stones and police retaliated with teargas and rubber bullets.

“The guy who is suffering the most didn't know anything about the arrest but people from the streets knows. Why did it take so long to inform me, my wife was shot last week and no one ever thought of coming and tell me,” he said.

Petersen said he is hoping and praying that what happened to him doesn't happen to another family.

“People won't know how I feel and I don't think they want to know. We are living in fear now and it's hurtful to lose a mother.”

He said his daughter has to live without her mother at the age of four. “What am I going to tell her on Saturday when we bury her mother?” Petersen asked.

The running battles between police and residents only subsided after Police Minister Bheki Cele visited the volatile area on Tuesday. 

He said two suspects have been arrested and the other two are still at large.

"We commit ourselves to coming back to work on the matters the community has raised. We will ask other departments to be part of the meeting next week so you can raise the matters‚" said Cele.
Cele said they will go back to Westbury next week with some of the answers residents need.

Cele said that the South African Police Service’s Tactical Response Team would patrol the area from Tuesday with the Johannesburg Metro Police Department. He said demands for arrested residents to be released were out of his hands, but police would not oppose bail when they appeared in court.

Cele said the two suspects on the run would be arrested in two days and drug lords would be behind bars within 72 hours.  

On Monday night‚ protesters destroyed and vandalised the Rea Vaya Westbury station.

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African News Agency (ANA)