‘Amarashiya’ reign of terror highlighted after mass shooting
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Johannesburg – The community of Tshepisong on the West Rand believes the group that mowed down seven people on Saturday evening were “Amarashiya”.
According to residents, amarashiya are Basotho men who live in the area and who ply their trade known as zama zama in the nearby old and disused mine.
Tshepisong is an informal settlement area between Soweto and Leratong Hospital and overlooks the old Durban Roodepoort Deep Mine which closed its operation in 2001.
The community told The Star yesterday that armed Basotho men frequent the old mine and often have deadly running battles among themselves or with the police.
On Saturday, Prince Maliaga tied the knot with his childhood sweetheart, oblivious that his special day would end in tragedy.
Maliaga, who lost his son in the attack, said that at around 7pm he heard a gunshot from the direction of his nextdoor neighbour’s house.
“One shot was followed by many more shots, including shots in the streets. My bride and I took refuge in the bedroom, joined by other guests.
“When the commotion and the shooting were over, we went outside to investigate what had happened.
“That is when we learnt that my next-door neighbour was attacked, apparently by three men, who fired shots at him, his wife, his relative and my son. They were all lying dead on the floor in a pool of blood,” Maliaga said.
They later learnt that a Toyota Avanza, without number plates, with about six men inside, was seen doing the rounds in the area before the shooting, he said.
“We were later told by others that armed occupants of the Avanza said they were looking for Vegie, a local shebeen owner.
“We do not know why they were looking for him,” Maliaga said.
Another resident, Bongani Khoza, said Basotho men were terrorising the area and were a law unto themselves.
“These people brazenly brandish firearms in broad daylight,” said Khoza, a retired police officer.
He said Tshepisong has grown big and now needed its own police station and own sector policing.
Petros Sithole, the brother of the deceased, sobbed when he spoke to The Star: “Amarashiya killed my brother. They killed him because he was a good man. My brother would never hurt a fly. He was peace loving.
“He earned an honest living. He worked as a plumber, a bricklayer, a motor mechanic. He never had enemies. But they killed him.”
Sithole said his brother, Jonas, his wife Sheron, cousin Carlito and a neighbour’s child Philani Dlamini were shot and killed while enjoying themselves as there was a wedding next door.
He said the killers are known in the community.
“There is a section here in our neighbourhood where Basotho people live. Those people are dangerous. We understand they were looking for a local shebeen owner who apparently chased them away the other night as he wanted to close and sleep,” said Sithole.
When they could not find the shebeen owner, Sithole said, they went on a shooting spree.
Wedding guests had to run for cover as bullets flew over their heads, with some house walls bearing witness with bullet holes.
According to the police, six people were shot and killed at the scene, and three wounded after a lone gunman entered a home in Kagiso west of Joburg on Saturday evening.
One of the wounded succumbed to gunshot wounds and died in hospital yesterday, Gauteng police spokesperson, Brigadier Brenda Muridili said.
“The motive for the killing is unknown at this stage, however, police are investigating murder and attempted murder.
“It is reported that a lone gunman entered a house and shot the owner, his girlfriend as well as a neighbour.
’’On his way out, he is alleged to have continued to shoot randomly. The street was busy as there was a wedding celebration,” Muridili said.