Residents storm Philippi East police station after 11 killed

2017-09-30 17:57
The tavern where four out of 11 people were killed. (Jenni Evans, News24)

The tavern where four out of 11 people were killed. (Jenni Evans, News24)

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Cape Town - Residents of the Marikana informal settlement stormed the Philippi East police station on Saturday afternoon demanding that police take action after 11 people were killed on Friday night.

The vast shackland falls under the policing cluster of Nyanga, which is dubbed the ''crime capital'' of South Africa because of its high rate of murder.

Marikana has been singled out as an area very difficult to police because of the densely packed shacks where police vehicles cannot enter, and there is no lighting.


A crisis meeting was held inside the police station after about 300 angry residents stormed the station.

Provincial police commissioner Lt-Gen Khombinkosi Jula was spotted arriving at the station in civilian clothes, however it was not immediately clear whether he was at the meeting.

''You are not undertakers, do your job,'' shouted one man from the crowd as police officers stood behind the counter.

By noon at least 100 Public Order Police officers had arrived, and the area surrounding the police station was cordoned off with a multitude of police vans.

''We want Jula," the angry group demanded, shouting that they never see the police patrolling the Marikana settlement.

They said they had complained many times, and had dropped off a memorandum, but still felt that nothing has improved.


Jula's spokesperson Brigadier Novela Potelwa said outside the police station on Saturday that after around 19:30 on Friday police received reports of shootings in the settlement.

On arrival police were confronted with scenes of four people shot dead inside a tavern, three inside a shack nearby, one outside the shack and two others lying dead between the shacks in the area.

Another victim died in hospital.

Sources at the scene said that at least three other people who were shot survived.

Potelwa said the area will be patrolled over the weekend while a special team of detectives would work to get to the bottom of who was behind the shootings.

During the chaos inside the police station, people speculated that it could have been revenge killings for a shooting on September 27 where seven people were killed, or could perhaps be gang-related.

Potelwa said the investigation will reveal what was behind the shootings so she would not speculate.

The community eventually left to hold a meeting at a nearby hall to decide what to do next.

Meanwhile, a shocked Kwanele Nyamakazi said he had been inside Emawelen tavern when what sounded like a brick was thrown against the zinc. 

''The place was not too busy, maybe 10, 15 people were there,'' he said.

''When we heard the brick some people tried to get outside but the [shooters] chased them back in and started firing randomly.

''I just waited to die,'' said Nyamakazi, who vowed to move out of the area.

Another woman, who did not want to be named, said she had just put the kettle on after arriving home when she heard loud bangs.

''They did not even sound like gunshots,'' she said.

''The police always come later, or they say they do not have back-up,'' she said, folding her arms crossly.

''But this time they were there within about 15 minutes''.

She said she heard the shooters shouting that they were going to shoot anybody that does patrols in the area.

The community has organised itself into one of the many informal patrols in an effort to keep the area safe.


Chairperson of the Nyanga Community Policing Forum, Sandile Martin the area was "very dangerous". 

He said there were too many illegal firearms circulating, and the area has no access roads where police patrol vehicles can get through.

In the humble shack where grieving mother Nonesi Jakazi lives, old buckets were brought in as seats for mourners and family.

The woman related between sobs how her son Lubabalo, 25, had come home from the tavern for supper, and then left again to go back where he was eventually shot dead.

She could not carry on speaking, hiding her face in her shirt as she choked through tears.

A young woman mixed some sugar water in a jug to help her calm down, while weeping and groaning could be heard from another room in the shack.

Siphindile Magwaxaza said the last time he saw his twin brother Nthandazo was when they shared a cigarette in the tavern while he was on his way home. Sitting on a broken office chair, the only furniture in the room, he said he went home to put his bag down, and then heard gunfire.

''People were telling me to take cover,'' he said.

When it was quiet again, he went to the tavern and found his brother under a table, dead.

Meanwhile, Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo said government condemned the shootings. 

''The incidents of 25th and 29th September 2017 resulted in a total of 18 people confirmed dead while several others sustained injuries,'' she said in a statement.

''I am shocked and saddened by the senseless killing of innocent people in Phillipi East. Government extends its heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the victims who passed away, and wish the injured a speedy recovery.''

She called for calm and assured the community that the police would bring the perpetrators to book. 

''Fighting crime is one of government’s top priorities but it requires strong co-operation between the law enforcement agencies, civic organisations and the broader public. We need to start making our surrounding environment safe so that members of the public especially children can freely thrive in their respective surroundings.

"Change starts with an active commitment by communities working hand in glove with government." 

The shooting was also condemned by Police Minister Fikile Mbalula and the ANC. 




Read more on:    cape town  |  crime

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