'I just waited to die' - Eyewitness in Cape shooting that left 11 dead

2017-09-30 11:54
The tavern where it is alleged that unknown suspects fired shots in one of the shooting incidents that claimed the lives of 11 people. (Jenni Evans)

The tavern where it is alleged that unknown suspects fired shots in one of the shooting incidents that claimed the lives of 11 people. (Jenni Evans)

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Cape Town – “I just waited to die”.

These were the words of Kwanele Nyamakazi, who was in the tavern where the shootings in Phillipi East began on Friday night.

Nyamakazi, who lives in the area, had been in the tavern at around 18:00, when he heard a brick, or some other hard object, being thrown against the zinc of the shack.

“[Some people] tried to go out to see what it was but there were men there and they told them to get back inside," he told News24. 

"The men [shooters] came in and just fired randomly."

Nyamakazi said he had hid behind the pool table and waiting to be killed.  

He said four people had been shot in the tavern. The shooters then allegedly ran out and shot into a house next door. 

LIVE UPDATES: Police on high alert after shootings in Cape Town

A neighbour who did not want to be named said that she had just come home and put the kettle on when she heard the shots. Then she heard the crying of the people inside.

The woman said she heard the gunmen shout that they were going to kill all the patrollers.

She said this was a reference to the community patrols arranged by the men in the area, because they say the police are too scared to come.

"The skollies want the patrollers dead," she said.

It was not clear yet whether those killed were part of the informal patrols.

Nonezi Jakazi lost her son Lubabalo.

She said he had been playing pool and came home for supper, before returning to the tavern to continue playing. It was there that he was killed. 

Police are expected to do nothing

Police Minister Fikile Mbalula said in a statement that this incident followed the deaths of seven other people on Tuesday, in what was believed to be vigilante killings. 

"These kind of attacks [against] our people can’t continue and police are expected to fold [their] arms and do nothing. Police are mandated to respond and they will respond in defense of our people”, Mbalula said. 

He also said that he supported the decision by Western Cape provincial commissioner, Lt General Khombinkosi Jula to place the Phillipi East station precinct under the care of a Deputy Provincial Commissioner, Major General Mpumelelo Manci.

"Police are mandated by the constitution to ensure safety and security of all persons and property in the national territory. I therefore expect Police to adhere to this mandate and find these [murderers], our people can’t live in fear. Our kids deserve to grow [up] in a non-violent society," Mbalula said.

Brigadier Novela Potelwa said Major General Manci has vast years of experience and previously worked in Nyanga as a station commissioner.

"He will be supported by a team comprising specialist detectives, intelligence operatives and high-risk units such as Tactical Response Team (TRT) members, National Intervention Unit (NIU) and other forces." 

READ: 11 dead in Cape Town mass shootings

Potelwa said forces on the ground were currently executing search operations that are set to continue throughout the weekend.

“An appeal is made to community members with information to come forward and assist the police investigation initiated,” she said.

Attacks possibly linked to Vigilantism

Nyanga Community Policing Forum chairperson Martin Makasi echoed Mbalula, by raising concerns that the latest shootings could be linked to vigilantism.

“There is a major concern about vigilantism in the area," he said.

Makasi said they suspected the latest shootings were linked to the attacks on Tuesday September, 25 and could possibly be revenge attacks.

READ: Mbalula urged to intervene in Philippi after night of bloodshed

“People must realise that vigilantism can escalate the problem. Those who were attacked and killed, their families and friends could come and seek revenge for them. They will want to come and fight,” he said.

Makasi said the community had indicated they were tired of the crime in the area and felt let down by the police and were taking matters into their own hands.

“We cannot condone that, if they are not happy with the police, there are official channels they can use to raise their concerns. Taking the law into their own hands and killing people makes them criminals, it is very barbaric and there is no justification for that,” he said.

Makasi said the SAPS were doing their utmost to engage with the community and would be meeting with community leaders as a matter of urgency.

Killings condemned

The African National Congress condemned the killings in the harshest possible terms.

“While the details around these deaths are still not quite clear, regardless of the circumstances these mass murders - related or not - are criminal acts which must be punished using the full might of our law,” said national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa.

“The ANC calls on the community of Marikana, Phillipi, Nyanga and anyone else to come forward with any information they may have to assist the SAPS apprehend the perpetrators of these heinous crimes.

“Criminals live amongst our communities, they are harboured by us and until society stands as one against this scourge it will not be defeated,” Kodwa said.

Mobilise all possible resources

The Portfolio Committee on Police urged SAPS to mobilise all possible resources to find those responsible for the deaths. The committee would discuss the incident at a meeting in Parliament on Monday.

Committee Chairperson Francois Beukman said the perpetrators of the "heinous crime" wanted to inflict maximum loss of life and create mayhem in the specific community.

"As South Africans we cannot allow that a small band of criminals continue with conduct that is not in line with the values of a democratic state". 

The committee called on the Hawks to deploy more members of its illegal firearm unit to assist in the investigation, and extended its condolences to the families of those killed in the shooting.

"Our prayers and thoughts are with them in this difficult time." 

Read more on:    cape town  |  crime

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