Durban – Two men were shot and wounded after an unknown gunman entered a tavern at Umlazi’s notorious Glebelands Hostel on Saturday night and opened fire.
This latest incident, which follows three murders and one attempted murder in the past week, has residents on tenterhooks as the period of relative peace achieved at the crime-riddled complex threatens to unravel.
According to one of KwaZulu-Natal’s police spokespersons, colonel Thembeka Mbele, police received a report of a shooting at an Umlazi tavern at around 11pm. Glebelands residents have identified the drinking hole as Dludla Tavern, situated inside the complex.
“On arrival the members found two people with gunshot wounds to the shoulder and abdomen. [They] were taken to hospital for medical attention. It is alleged that both men were inside the tavern when they were shot by an unknown suspect. Charges of attempted murder were opened for investigation,” said Mbele.
“The [Glebelands Hostel] task team is investigating all cases at the hostel and are working around the clock to establish if they are linked and whether they are attempts by certain individuals to destabilize the peace at the hostel,” she said.
On Thursday, a private security guard and a resident were shot and killed in separate incidents. Another security guard was seriously injured.
On the Sunday prior to this, a 26-year-old man was shot and killed at Chiefs Tavern, while three days earlier, a taxi owned by a resident – parked at the hostel – was shot at multiple times, with no injuries recorded.
The notorious complex, which houses about 22 000 people, has experienced a relative lull in violence since the arrest of the so-called Glebelands Eight, who were detained between December last year and April.
The eight men – one of them an undercover detective at Durban Central Police Station before his arrest - are currently awaiting trial for crimes including murder and attempted murder that allegedly took place at the complex between August 2014 and March 2016.
The state is alleging that the accused conspired to form a syndicate with the common purpose of killing Glebelands residents in order to take control of the hostel and acquire control of payments made by hostel dwellers.
All of the cases pertaining to the hostel were shifted to a specially established task team last year after allegations of police collusion within the Umlazi station.
Vanessa Burger, an independent community activist for human rights and social justice, who has worked with victims of violence at the hostel for years, said there was a possibility the recent flare-up was an attempt to “destabilise” the hostel as the Glebelands Eight draw closer to their trial date.
“Investigations into other hitmen linked to these individuals are at critical stages. It will be to the benefit of the accused to intimidate potential witnesses and deter others from coming forward. Glebelands hitmen have a history of assassinating witnesses,” said Burger.