Teenage dance of death

2018-10-01 15:33
A crowd of community members watch detectives at work around the two shacks where the shooting happened on Saturday night. The bodies of the dead, as well as the injured, had to be carried down the steep slope to ambulances parked below. INSET: Siyabonga Xolani Hlomuka (16).

A crowd of community members watch detectives at work around the two shacks where the shooting happened on Saturday night. The bodies of the dead, as well as the injured, had to be carried down the steep slope to ambulances parked below. INSET: Siyabonga Xolani Hlomuka (16). (Nompilo Kunene)

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Four Sobantu teenagers belonging to a traditional indlamu dance group called Abadlovozi were shot dead at the weekend, allegedly by a rival group from Tamboville.

All four boys were shot in a one-room mud shack on a steep slope in the Mabhida area, just outside Sobantu, at around 10 pm on Saturday.

A police source, who cannot be named, said six teenagers, including a girl (believed to be 12 or 13) and twins (believed to be 14 or 15), were in the shack when two gunmen barged in.

“They heard someone banging on the door and when one of the twin boys opened, the person on the other side had a gun and pushed him onto the floor. He started shooting at everyone who was inside. I think when he ran out of ammunition and thought he had killed everyone he left.

“The twin who had opened the door survived the rain of bullets and when he thought the attackers had left he went outside and started screaming for help. One of the attackers was still there, between the two shacks. He asked the boy what was wrong and when he explained the man drew out his gun and before shooting him said ‘Angithi nina nabadlovozi?’ (Are you not Abadlovozi?). He then shot him and the boy died outside.”

Abadlovozi is a traditional dance group from Sobantu.

The source said the killers, believed to have been travelling in a white VW Golf with no number plates, were seen again in the area in the early hours of yesterday morning.

When The Witness arrived at the scene on Sunday morning community members, including young children, had gathered and watched as the police forensic unit combed the scene while the search and rescue unit carried the bodies of the deceased down the steep slope.

Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Captain Gay Ebrahim said three people died at the scene from multiple gunshot wounds and one later succumbed to his injuries and died in hospital.

She said two survivors are receiving treatment in hospital.

When The Witness was at the scene, the teenage girl had spent at least two hours sitting in an ambulance.

A bystander, who asked not to be named out of fear, said one of the paramedics had told him that they were scared to drive the girl, who was shot in the leg, to hospital without being escorted by police as they were told that the assailants were still in the area and wanted to finish off the survivors.

Another neighbour, who also asked not to be named, told The Witness that the ambulance only arrived at the scene on Sunday morning.

“When the police arrived at the scene, one of the boys was still breathing and could still move his hand. He was shot in his lower body but because the ambulance took forever to arrive he bled to death.

“I honestly don’t understand what the problem is with ambulances coming into this area; it is always a hassle for them. We started calling since last night [Saturday] but they only arrived around 5.30 am this morning. When we start stoning the ambulances we are called names,” said the woman.

KZN EMS spokesperson Robert MacKenzie said it was not easy to tell what time the ambulance arrived at the scene as they would need to investigate the matter first.

Another bystander, who also asked not to be named, said she had overheard a group of teenage boys, who were also at the scene, saying they were going to Tamboville to take revenge against the attackers.

“I tried warning them against this but they said I must go warn my own child and leave them alone. I fear that this was just the beginning and I fear for our children’s live. Our youth is lost in drugs and guns,” said the woman.

Sandile Dlamini, the ward councillor, said he could not comment on the matter as he did not have the full details of what had happened.

Dlamini said he knew Abadlovozi as an isicathamiya dance group but said if some members of the group were involved in drugs then yesterday’s massacre was bound to happen.

“Condolences to the families who lost their loved ones. The families and friends should give the police all the information and allow justice to take its course, I ask that no one tries to revenge themselves,” he said.

Captain Ebrahim said the police were currently following up on rumours that the attack was gang related.

“At this stage it cannot be confirmed.”

She said the first call came in at about midnight from one of the victims.

“Unfortunately the address and the location was unclear. The police could not locate the specific place in the mountainous area and the complainant could not be reached on her cellphone that she called from.

“Two of the injured were removed by private transport to hospital last night and the third by ambulance this [on Sunday] morning.

“The station commander of Mountain Rise, Brigadier Boxer Pillay, has with immediate effect engaged a special task team to investigate the senseless murders and attempted murders,” said Ebrahim.

The police would not give the names of the victims.

Family speak of rivalry over dance fees

The family of one of the murdered boys, Siyabonga Xolani Hlomuka (16), said they were still shocked by his violent death.

Sipho Mbatha, Siyabonga’s older cousin, said: “There is currently a lot of stories going around after his death. As his family we knew Siya­bonga as a traditional dancer and the choreographer of the Abadlovozi group.”

Mbatha said when they received the news that Siyabonga had died, they thought he was out at one of his dance events.

“Siyabonga was always very transparent. He reported to us whenever he left home to attend events and would also tell us how everything went when he came back.”

The family said they suspect that the motive for the killings was the rivalry of the Sobantu traditional dance group and a group from Tamboville, as the groups made a lot of money when they were booked to perform at events.

Another source told The Witness that the groups were always fighting over girls.

“I also heard that Siyabonga was once part of the Tamboville group and there were some disputes so he left and joined a group in the area,” said Mbatha.

“I ask that the community unites after this tragic death of our youngsters and we work on finding ways to move forward and prevent such incidents from happening again as it can easily happen to any of our neighbours if we sit and do nothing.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  crime

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