Drive-by death horror

2014-10-13 00:00

FOURTEEN people were killed when two separate drive-by shootings on Saturday resulted in carnage on the roads of Ezakheni, Ladysmith.

At this stage, it is not clear if the two incidents are linked.

In the first incident, a Mercedes-Benz with five occupants was speeding down Peters Road, near Ezakheni, allegedly trying to escape gunfire from another vehicle.

When the occupants of the unknown vehicle fired at the Mercedes, the driver lost control and veered off the road. One person in the Mercedes died at the scene, and four others sustained gunshot wounds.

Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Willies Mchunu yesterday said that 38 bullet holes had been found in the car.

In the ensuing commotion, a fully laden taxi collided with an oncoming truck as the truck driver attempted to avoid the fleeing Mercedes.

KwaZulu-Natal EMS spokesperson Robert McKenzie said a total of five people, including a small child, were declared dead on the scene by paramedics.

“Medics had to use the ‘jaws of life’ to remove several patients from the smashed minibus.

“Four of the fatalities were from the minibus, and all of them were female, while the driver of the vehicle was also fatally injured,” McKenzie said.

Police spokesperson Thulani Zwane confirmed that another four people involved in the accident died later in hospital.

“Eight counts of culpable homicide were opened at Lady­smith police station for the taxi’s victims. One count of murder, and four counts of attempted murder were also opened for the car’s occupants,” Zwane confirmed.

On the same day, about half an hour later, five people who were at a carwash in Ezakheni’s D section were shot and killed by occupants of a Toyota Avanza.

Another person was injured and managed to escape.

The suspects fled the scene, and police say a number of R5 and 9 mm cartridges were found on the ground.

“Five counts of murder were opened, and the motive for the shooting is unknown,” Zwane said.

Willies Mchunu has expressed his sadness and assembled a task team to deal with the incidents.

“I have assembled a high-level delegation to visit Ezakheni and establish the details. The team will also engage with the families of the deceased and injured. The perpetrators of this tragedy must be found with speed and severely punished,” he said.

In addition, KZN Premier Senzo Mchunu said he condemned the brutal nature of the crime that had been committed.

“I wish to state that as government we view the re-emergence of violence in Ladysmith as intolerable,” he said.

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