Dramatic hostage drama ends in gunfire

2014-02-04 08:53
Paramedics carry an injured man who held family members hostage before apparently shooting himself. (Jonathan Burton, The Witness)

Paramedics carry an injured man who held family members hostage before apparently shooting himself. (Jonathan Burton, The Witness)

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Thobani Ngqulunga, The Witness

Pietermaritzburg - A seven-hour hostage drama ended in a volley of gunfire on Monday, leaving four police officers and their attacker injured with bullet wounds.

Anxious neighbours gathered at the Imbali house in Pietermaritzburg where the incident played out, hoping to see the eight hostages safely released as specialised police units tried to negotiate a peaceful conclusion to the drama with the angry armed man.

The traumatised Ngcobo family had been held hostage by a relative, Mandla, whose reign of terror began early on Saturday morning.

It ended with the man critically injured in hospital after allegedly shooting himself.

Shots

Residents gathered early on Monday as the police Tactical Response Team and other special units stormed the house to rescue a grandmother and seven children. Their view to the house was blocked by police vans parked across the road as task team officers positioned themselves to storm the house and rescue the hostages.

Seconds later, five to six shots were heard, resulting in a buzz of activity as paramedics rushed in to tend to the wounded officers and gunman.

Four officers sustained non-life threatening bullet wounds. A member of the dog unit had a miraculous escape with a bullet piercing his trousers but missing his leg, and a shrapnel scratch on his lower lip.

The gunman, a minibus taxi conductor, had a head wound which is thought to have been self-inflicted.

He had been on the run since Sunday after having been arrested after allegedly stabbing his ex-girlfriend’s new partner. While being treated at a clinic, he overpowered his police guard, seizing his firearm, and allegedly shot at a nurse before making his way to Imbali. He first went to his ex-girlfriend Nokuthula “Nonoli” Zondi’s house, where he threatened to kill her mother, Khululekile Madlala.

Jealous

Madlala said, “Mandla was jealous when Nonoli started dating again and he started harassing her. He told me he wanted to kill my daughter and should kill me as well,” she said.

He then went to the Ngcobo home, where he held eight relatives hostage.

He shot a police officer pursuing him in the leg, and then locked the doors, threatening to kill anybody who opened them.

During the stand-off, several people, including Zondi who was clad in a bulletproof vest, had tried to persuade Ngcobo to give up the pistol and allow the police to arrest him, but he refused, threatening to shoot whoever opened the door.

Provincial police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said Ngcobo was currently in hospital under police guard.

Monday's incident followed the murder of Sergeant Thamisanqa Zondi, 39, in Richmond last Monday, and those of Constable Sibusiso Mthethwa, 31, and student Constable Thobani Xulu, 26, at kwaDukuza over the weekend.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  domestic violence
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