Police visibility to intensify at next concert

2015-06-11 06:01
Shwi of Shwi Nomunt’ekhala maskandi musical group lifts up the trophy they won. The group is one of the crowd-pullers expected to fascinate party-goers at Ukhozi FM 55 birthday celebration concert at Oval Cricket Stadium on Saturday. Other group and

Shwi of Shwi Nomunt’ekhala maskandi musical group lifts up the trophy they won. The group is one of the crowd-pullers expected to fascinate party-goers at Ukhozi FM 55 birthday celebration concert at Oval Cricket Stadium on Saturday. Other group and

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HUNDREDS of revellers drinking and making noise, taxis illegally parked blaring loud music and blocking the road, cars drifting with people hanging out of windows, and murder.

This was the scene of chaos that played out outside the Invesco Centre on Chatterton Road on Sunday night.

The centre allegedly locked its gates to prevent the people from interfering with restaurant customers.

Attempts to speak to the centre manager were unsuccessful at the time of going to press.

With the police seemingly absent, revellers took full advantage and caused chaos which left many people fearing for their lives.

The night ended with the murder of Siyabonga Mbatha (17) from Mooi River.

Siyabonga, a Grade 10 pupil at Eminyezaneni High, had travelled with friends in a taxi from Mooi River to attend the annual Ukhozi FM concert.

They, and many others, were unaware that the concert has been postponed by a week and would not be hosted at the showgrounds this year.

They then loitered near the Invesco Centre until late on Sunday when a fight allegedly broke out between him, a friend and another boy, also from Mooi River, resulting in two people being­ stabbed.

Siyabonga died at the scene and his friend was taken to hospital.

The boy who allegedly stabbed them was arrested at the scene.

A source, who attended the scene on Monday, described the situation on Sunday night as “very chaotic”.

“There were very underage kids, drunk out of their minds. We battled to control the scene. They would not listen to anyone, even the police. They blocked the traffic and were all over the street. Eventually by 10 pm we managed to clear the scene.”

Police spokesperson Mthokozisi Ngobese said: “It’s not true that the police­ delayed in attending to the chaos­. Every unit was concentrated at the showgrounds area. The scene was just one minute away and we could even walk there.”

He said it was difficult for the police to intervene in arguments between friends. He said next week at the Ukhozi­ FM­ concert in the Oval Stadium, they will intensify police visibility and deploy crime intelligence officers to prevent similar incidents.

Siyabonga’s family were still trying to establish what led to the tragedy.

Siyabonga’s uncle, Ronnie Mbatha said: “We have spoken to the people who were there, but they were drunk, so we cannot be certain about what they said.”

Mbatha said he was unaware that his nephew was travelling to Pietermaritzburg for the concert.

“I did not give him the money for the concert. If I had known he was going to the concert, I would never have allowed him to go because Monday was a school day.”

He said his family had suffered a great loss.

“He was a good boy who was always around when I needed him. I had hoped to see him grow, study and become something in life,” he said.

Posting tributes on Facebook, his friends said it was hard to believe Siyabonga­ had died.

A Pietermaritzburg woman, who declined to be named, told of the chaos she witnessed prior to the murder.

She had gone to the chemist at the centre to collect her medication, but could not get in because the gates were closed and there was chaos on the road.

“There were many people. Many of them were already drunk, hanging out of cars, making a noise. There were taxis and cars blocking the road.Some of the people were shouting at me saying hamba, hamba (go, go) while others were rocking my car. I got quite a fright.”

She said her main concern was that there were no police there.

She said she was shocked, but not surprised that someone had been nmurdered. “When I got home, I called the Townhill police station, but they said it was not their jurisdiction and I should call 10111.”

A restaurant manager at the centre, who declined to be named, said it was chaotic on Sunday night. “There were a few hundred people here. They could not get in because the gates were closed. There is security, but their behaviour was scaring the customers.”

Terry Strachan, CEO of the Royal Agricultural Society, said they had heard about the attack.

“That has nothing to do with us at all. We had the Vuma gospel concert on 31 May. Every year we have to refresh the Royal Show and the Ukhozi concert will probably come back in three or four years,” he said.

He said it was advertised extensively that the Ukhozi concert would not take place at the Royal Showgrounds this year.

Attempts to get comment from Ukhozi and the SABC were unsuccessful at the time of going to press


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