Taxi war in Esigodini

2019-08-27 15:00
Foto ter illustrasie....FOTO: ANDRE DAMONS

Foto ter illustrasie....FOTO: ANDRE DAMONS (File)

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A night of blood.

That is how Esigodini residents in Edendale described a ferocious gun battle at the weekend in the area that left two women and four men dead and one man critically injured.

Thabani Gumede, Nobuhle Zondi, Azola Dlamini, Thamsanqa Shange, Lungisani Shezi and Mzwakhe Mdlalose were all shot multiple times in separate incidents on Saturday night.

Sphesihle Kheswa, who was also shot, is in a critical condition in hospital.

While relative calm was restored on Monday after what was described as a “massacre”, the residents said they continue to live in fear as the gunmen could pounce at any moment.

The murders are allegedly linked to taxi violence that has been raging in the area for more than two years.

The Witness learnt on Monday that some of the murder victims were allegedly “executed” because they were witnesses in an important case relating to taxi violence in the area.

The shooting spree started at about 6.30 pm on Saturday. The first casualty of the night was Mzwakhe Mdlalose.

Mdlalose, who was a rank manager in the area, was shot at his homestead after attending a relative’s funeral.

He suffered multiple gunshot wounds in his head and back.

About 15 minutes later, at 6.45 pm, the gunmen struck again, this time at the Dinangwe General Store, where they shot and killed Zondi, Gumede and Shange before fleeing in a getaway vehicle.

But on their way, the gunmen spotted Shezi jumping out of a taxi and shot him multiple times. Shezi’s body was found by a passer-by slumped on the side of the road next to the metal railings.

At 8 pm, the men barged into a house in the area where they killed Dlamini and wounded her boyfriend Kheswa.

A member of a Durban private security company, hired by the Edendale/Esigodini Taxi Association to patrol the route, who asked to remain unnamed, said the shootings started last Thursday. “It’s an ongoing feud. Some of the people who were killed were witnesses and others were just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said the security guard.

He said the situation in the area was tense and residents feared that the perpetrators would return to strike again.

“You never know what’s going to happen. We are trying to work with the police to ensure that the perpetrators are arrested,” he said.

Bongani Zondi, Nobuhle’s brother, told The Witness his sister worked as a shop assistant. “She had nothing to do with the feud. My sister was just a shop assistant,” said Zondi.

He said they found Nobuhle’s body slumped under the table in the storeroom of the shop. “We found in a kneeling position under the table. She tried to hide but they followed her into the storeroom and shot her.”

Zondi said Nobuhle was shot twice in the head. “Why would they come into the shop? We had nothing to do with their dispute. My family doesn’t own a single taxi and none of us work for the taxi industry,” he added.

He described Nobuhle as a quiet person and a loving mother.

Meanwhile, Gumede’s relative, who asked to remain unnamed, said they heard multiple gunshots inside the shop. “I thought we were going to die,” said the relative.

The relative said she lay on the floor holding her children as bullets flew outside. “We switched off the lights and when the gunshots stopped, we looked out the window and saw a car screeching and then driving off,” she said.

The relative, who lives a stone’s throw away from the shop, said after the vehicle drove off, they heard loud screams. “One of the neighbours barged into our house to tell us that Thabani had been killed.

“We rushed out and found him lying in a pool of blood,” she said.

“There was no way he was going to survive. His body was riddled by bullets … they made sure they killed him.”

The relative said they were living in fear.

“We have thought about moving but where can we go? We are just trusting the police to find the evil doers and to also protect us,” she said.

While The Witness was reliably informed on Monday that four of the suspected shooters were arrested near Naperville on Sunday, KZN police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele declined to comment and said that the matter was still under investigation.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  taxi war

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