CCTV image may lead police to Melville shooting killer

Published Jan 25, 2020


Johannesburg - On 4th Avenue, at the corner of 7th Street, Melville, a CCTV camera

captured a glimpse of an alleged killer, who police are now battling to catch.

That image, shot front-on through the windscreen of a car, has given one identification expert a possible glimpse of what this man looks like. The man is driving the same black BMW X5 that was used in the drive-by shooting outside Poppy’s restaurant early on New Year’s morning. In that hail of bullets, two people died and a further six were injured.

Jeanette Naude, a facial reconstruction specialist, examined the CCTV image for the Saturday Star. While the quality of the image is poor and she stressed there was an element of speculation, she believes she was able to pick up some of the suspect’s facial characteristics.

“The person in the driver’s seat looks like a black male or could also be a dark coloured male. His head seems to be clean-shaven and he appears to have a round face shape, perhaps with fuller cheeks and prominent brows,” she said.

Three weeks have passed since the deadly shooting and sources close to the investigation have admitted they are struggling to find a motive for the shooting, as well as suspects. There has been speculation that the shooting might somehow be gang related, but sources say police have been investigating this possibility and have come up with no leads so far.

Another lead is the luxury BMW X5, which on the morning of the shooting was caught on camera. However, it was quickly established that the car bore cloned number plates. A search of databases failed to link the cloned number plates to any crimes.

The rightful car owner in whose name the number plate is registered has been cleared as a suspect. But closer examination of the CCTV footage taken in the minutes leading to the shooting suggests that the black BMW made several passes through the streets of Melville. At 12.53am, a CCTV camera caught an image of the car driving up 7th Avenue, towards 3rd Street. This route would have taken the shooter past Poppy’s, which would have been on the opposite side of the street.

The driver applies brakes several times as he appears to slow down as he passes several nightspots on the popular strip. Four minutes later, a CCTV camera captures the driver on 4th Avenue, just a block from where the first image was taken. The shooting, according to police, happened at 1am. If the driver turned right into 7th Street, his car would have passed Poppy’s on the left, leaving him in the same position as the shooter when he opened fire.

“That BMW was driving in the vicinity of Melville before the shooting. And for somebody just to go there, I think the motive most certainly was to cause panic,” said crime activist Yusuf Abramjee, who believes that the second shooting that happened just two hours after the incident in Melville, in Mary Fitzgerald Square, was most likely linked.

In this incident, a shooter or shooters opened fire on revellers from the M1 highway, and 11 people were injured. Yesterday, police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters said there had been no new developments in the two cases. She reiterated that a reward has been offered for information.

“Like I often say, someone somewhere knows who was involved. How many people drive a black BMW X5 like that?” said Abramjee.

Saturday Star

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