Riot after shop men shoot 'robber'

2009-03-06 00:00

A riot broke out in the centre of Pietermaritzburg after a robbery and a shooting on Thursday afternoon.

Police used rubber bullets to subdue an angry mob that attacked two brothers and stoned and burnt their vehicle after they shot and killed a man alleged to have robbed their shop in Retief Street.

More than 500 people converged on the door of Ishmail (34) and Salleh Khan’s (40) supermarket, accusing them of opening fire in a crowded street and killing an innocent man who was on his way home from work.

Earlier, five men held up the Khan brothers at gunpoint at their Siyazama Supermarket and made off with a money bag with an undisclosed amount of cash and airtime vouchers valued at more than R55 000.

Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram said the Khans were preparing to close the shop when the robbery happened.

“Two of the men stood guard at the doorway and the other three confronted the Khan brothers.”

A 10-year-old boy was inside the shop when the robbery occurred.

After the shooting, people in the street turned against the Khans and the boy.

A mob of more than 500 converged on the shop calling for the Khans’ blood and blocking traffic during the afternoon rush hour.

Budhram said police who arrived on the scene were also attacked by the mob. “The crowd became very aggressive and violent, attacked the brothers and set their vehicle alight … The police were forced to fire rubber bullets to disperse the crowd and bring the situation under control.”

Firefighters doused the burning vehicle. The road was cordoned off with police tape.

A street vendor who declined to be named told Weekend Witness that a lunch box was lying next to the dead man’s body.

“He had a wallet and a cellphone … Another man said the dead man was his workmate and had been with him earlier on the day at his workplace.”

The dead man had not been officially identified yesterday, but Weekend Witness was told that he was from Sweetwaters.

Budhram said it is likely the dead man was a member of the hold-up gang. He was the last person seen running out of the shop, he said, and “police are investigating the allegations to establish the truth about the dead man”.

A few demostrators were injured when the police used rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.

Budhram said 10 people — eight men and two women — were arrested for public violence.

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