Four families from Hammarsdale, 40km west of Durban, are struggling to come to terms with the loss of their loved ones after gunmen went on a shooting spree last week.
Four people were killed in two separate incidents in a town which is reeling from continued attacks over the past few months.
In Zibuse in Umlaba Village, Philani Mngwengwe, 24, and Patrick Msomi, 37, were both shot in the head on Saturday and their bodies left on the side of the road.
Patrick’s sister, Monica Msomi, said her brother was quiet, liked to drink alcohol but never bothered anyone.
“As a family, we have many unanswered questions of why he was killed, because we know our brother wouldn’t hurt a fly. We hope justice will be served,” she said.
Mngwengwe’s tearful grandmother said: “My Philani was an angel, a respectful young boy who was forever smiling. Those killers buried me alive. I don’t know what to say.”
Hopes of a brighter future for two other families were dashed when their loved ones, who were studying for their year-end exams, were killed.
Nonhlanhla Zondi and Nonduduzo Nkandi, both 21, were studying in an outbuilding when they were shot in the head. Zondi was in Grade 11 at ePhezulu High School while Nkandi was a matriculant at Thandaza High School.
Zondi’s sister Londiwe said: “We are at a loss for words after what happened to my sister. It’s especially hard for our mother because we were looking forward to a bright future for Nonhlanhla.”
Nomvula Magwaza, Nkandi’s sister, said the attack happened at around 10pm. The two girls were studying when the family heard shooting, but were too scared to go outside.
“We waited until Friday morning to check what happened and we found them lying on their exercise books with gunshots to the head. We are still confused about all of this.
She said the two girls were friends, and once exams started, they had studied together and then died together.
Hammarsdale ward councillor Petros Malombo Nxumalo said the killings were motivated by gangsters who terrorised the community.
“The killings in the area have been happening for too long. We have asked the minister to intervene and raid the place.
“You would be surprised by what you may find at Umlaba village and surrounding areas,” he said.
Former MEC and Speaker in the KwaZulu-Natal legislature Meshack Radebe said: “Hammarsdale has lots of issues, starting from the police station.
“These police officers have been working there for years, and know the criminals. They arrest people, but it doesn’t lead to any convictions.”
Radebe, who at one time had brokered peace in the area, said Hammarsdale needed regular raids to remove all the guns in circulation.
Captain Nqobile Gwala, a police spokesperson, said murder investigations were underway.