Another shootout in Ballito

2013-04-19 00:00

FOR the second time in as many months, patrons at a restaurant in Ballito dived for cover yesterday afternoon during a shootout at a nearby taxi rank.

A man thought to be a bystander was killed in the shooting.

This comes a month after a similar shooting in the upmarket coastal town had patrons at another restaurant cowering on the floor.

Police said four men with automatic rifles opened fire on a vehicle parked at the Boulevard Shopping Centre.

Nobody in the car was injured, but a 27-year-old man passing by was shot and died at the scene. Another person was injured.

The police said the motive for the shooting was unknown and no arrests had been made.

Businessmen at the centre said guards stationed at the nearby taxi rank exchanged fire with the gunmen.

Barnabas Phindwa, manager of Mo-Zam-Bik restaurant, was in his office when the first shots rang out.

“I ordered the patrons to take cover and get on the ground. I went to the door and told people walking by to get in before I locked the door,” he said.

The shootout, which took place in front of the restaurant’s packed smoking area, happened so fast that Phindwa said he was unable to distinguish the guards from the gunmen.

“The taxi rank was packed at the time and there were some taxi owners there to organise the many passengers,” he said.

“One bystander who was waiting for a taxi was shot in the head and died.”

The four men, who were carrying what Phindwa thought were R4 rifles, escaped through a passage next to the shopping centre where they hijacked a car and fled, he said.

The owner of a shop at the centre told The Witness he had heard that the shooting was linked to rivalry in the taxi industry.

“I heard gunshots coming from the third floor. I went up to see what was happening and I saw four armed men running towards me. They were all carrying AK47s,” said the businessman, who refused to be named.

“I hid in the bakery. While I was there, the shooting continued. I waited until it subsided before leaving,” he said.

After the gunmen had left, he said, he was told that the men were looking to kill a taxi boss.

He said the victim of the shooting was his customer and was not connected to the taxi industry.

“He was outside, waiting to take a taxi home.”

Ballito resident D.J. Ewan tweeted yesterday: “White Toyota Corolla heading towards N2 from Lifestyle, Ballito, with guy with machine gun sticking out rear window.”

A tweet from @Tanina_Frasco warned: “There has been a shooting outside the back of the Boulevard Shopping centre in Jack Powell Rd, Ballito … Stay away.”

About a month ago, two taxi drivers were injured in a shootout at the Ballito Lifestyle Centre, about seven minutes from where yesterday’s incident happened.

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