Terrifying sendoff for gangsters

2017-04-10 14:00
The BMW that had four occupants who were shot dead when armed gunmen opened fire on it in KwaDambuza during the early hours of Sunday morning.

The BMW that had four occupants who were shot dead when armed gunmen opened fire on it in KwaDambuza during the early hours of Sunday morning. (Supplied)

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Firing bullets into the air, hurling beer bottles at passing vehicles, spinning cars outside police stations and barricading roads.

These were only some of the events that angered residents of some Pietermaritzburg suburbs at the weekend.

It is believed hundreds of friends, family members and associates of two of the five alleged robbery syndicate members who were shot dead by police in Hilton last month took to the streets in Prestbury, the upper CBD and in Plessislaer on Saturday.

In what is commonly described as a growing trend in gangster subculture, the group held a rowdy night vigil, illegally cordoning off roads near the Botanical Gardens and in Plessislaer.

It is unclear when the burial ceremonies of the two men occurred.

Police sources have also said that the shooting of four men in their vehicle by AK47-wielding gunmen in KwaDambuza during the early hours on Sunday may be linked to tension between gangs in Pietermaritzburg, following the Hilton standoff with police.

Starting late on Saturday afternoon and continuing into the early hours of Sunday morning, residents, police sources and motorists described the tension that clouded those suburbs as the proceedings continued.

In Prestbury, it is believed a group of about 100 people barricaded Mayor’s Walk, parking 20 to 30 cars along the roadside.

It is believed drivers took turns spinning their cars while others cheered, firing gunshots into the air and flinging empty beer bottles at any motorists who approached.

There was a similar scene in the Plessislaer area where another vigil was held for the second syndicate member.

According to one motorist who came face to face with the group, he was heading to his Blackridge home when up ahead he saw people running across the road.

The man, who asked not to be named, said he held down his hooter, not knowing what was happening.

“That was when I heard something smash into my back door. Then I saw another beer bottle smash into the road next to me. On the roadside, the people were pointing their fingers at me in the shape of a gun,” the man said.

“I sped off and did not look back. I was terrified”.

Community groups on social media were abuzz with reports of gunshots, screeching tyres and loud chanting and screaming.

“People were in fear for their lives,” one resident said.

“I heard more than two dozen gunshots from my home between 6 pm and 2 am.”

A police source said the group were “doing donuts” with their cars outside the Prestbury police station.

“I think they wanted to intimidate the officers at the station. There were also reports of gunshots being fired when police approached the vigil in Plessislaer. Public Order Policing teams along with various units cleared the road and monitored the situation,” the source said.

Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Sergeant Mthokozisi Ngobese said after residents started reporting disturbances, officers set out to monitor the vigil and stop it from escalating further.

“We did not intervene, but rather kept it under control. Some people were given warnings by police,” Ngobese said.

It is believed the KwaDambuza attack on Sunday morning may be linked to the vigils, with tension between gangs now simmering.

Ngobese said four men who were in a BMW were approached by unknown gunmen carrying AK47 assault rifles.

The gunmen opened fire on the vehicle, killing all four men instantly.

“The motive for the attack is not yet clear. We are investigating,” Ngobese said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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