Gangs in bloody face-off

2015-01-19 00:00

BLOOD splatter remained on the walls of the Matsheni Beer Hall on Saturday after two rival gangs faced off in the midst of the ­public.

According to eyewitnesses who asked not to be named, at least 12 alleged gang members stormed into the busy beer hall in the Pietermaritzburg CBD on Saturday morning, wielding pangas, sticks, axes and knives.

The gang appeared to brutally target specific people scattered among the crowd.

“They just ran in out of nowhere with long sticks and broken beer bottles and knives and what not. It all happened so fast and this huge fight erupted. All I could hear was women screaming like they were dying and people running all over,” one witness said.

A paramedic at the scene in the aftermath, who asked not to be named, said at least eight people were injured and one person died from the attack.

One victim was taken to Northdale Hospital in a stable condition while another was rushed to the East Street Clinic in a trolley by a friend. On arrival at the clinic, the 20-year-old male was pronounced dead from “massive blood loss” after being stabbed in the neck.

The violence is said to have resulted from a feud between two gangs that operate in the area — the 28s and the 26s.

According to the chairperson of the Matsheni Committee, Dumisani Mdlangathi, the 28s run the drug syndicates at night and the 26s run them during the day. A month ago, a member of the 26s killed a 28s gang member and Saturday’s attack was revenge.

“As the shop owners, we were so scared of another follow-up revenge attack on Saturday that we closed early,” Mdlangathi said.

The Witness reported in December last year that over half the crime in the entire CBD takes place in the vicinity of the ­Matsheni Beer Hall.

Mdlangathi lashed out at police and the municipality for turning a blind eye to the situation at the hall after, he said, promises were made, but not kept, to begin a process of renovation and security installation for the building.

“The municipality and the police are ­failing us. All these officials are not born and bred here, so they don’t care about what happens,” Mdlangathi said.

Ward councillor Mary Schalkwyk and ­municipal spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha were both not available for comment yesterday.


The 28s and the 26s originate from the Numbers Gang, which has a strong presence in most of South Africa’s prisons.

It is said that the 26s are responsible for gambling, smuggling and accruing wealth, while the 28s, divided into gold and silver “lines”, are the warriors responsible for fighting.

It is unclear when it began, but infighting between the two groups has been reported around the country for decades.

The complex code that the Numbers Gang follows strictly stipulates that the 26s rule by day and the 28s rule at night. The groups have their own languages, salutes, flags and identification marks, and the history of the gang is said to date to before the 1900s.

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