Williams sent off with a bang

2016-05-09 12:45
Heavily armed police keep a watchful eye on friends and family of notorious gang leader Ian Williams, who was laid to rest at the Mountain Rise Cemetery.

Heavily armed police keep a watchful eye on friends and family of notorious gang leader Ian Williams, who was laid to rest at the Mountain Rise Cemetery. (Witness Photographer)

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Pietermaritzburg - Gunshots and the squeal of tyres rang through the air as thousands gathered to say their final farewell to notorious gang leader Ian Williams on Sunday.

Williams’s funeral took place in the presence of scores of heavily armed police officers in full riot gear who had been brought into the city from around KZN to monitor the crowd of around 2 000 mourners attending the proceedings.

This was against the backdrop of rumours circulating of the existence of a police hit-list among the mourners.

Two of Ian Williams’s relatives are expected to appear in court today after they were arrested this weekend during activities surrounding his funeral.

It is believed that among the mourners were gang members from Gauteng, the Cape and Durban.

Police spokesperson Gay Ebrahim said last night that an operation by the Combined Action Team (CAT) on Saturday night resulted in the arrest of four suspects, one a juvenile and one a close relative of Williams, for the attempted hijacking of a Toyota Run-X in Copesville.

“They were charged with the possession of an unlicensed firearm and attempted hijacking,” said Ebrahim.

She said a crowd of around 300 people held a vigil in the streets of Tembalihle that night, when shots were fired and car spinning took place.

The Witness was told that a Porsche SUV that had been stolen in Eldorado Park was burned in Tembalihle, but Ebrahim said although they had also heard about this incident, they had been unable to find any evidence of it. Vehicles are often stolen or hijacked and burnt as a send-off to dead hijackers.

Yesterday, Williams’s friends and family gathered at Northdale’s Truro Hall for a funeral service. Mourners spun cars and drank alcohol in the lower car park.

People watching shook up their beer bottles and sprayed them around as songs were being sung inside the Truro Hall.

Smoke filled the air and the smell of burnt rubber pervaded the area.

Heavily armed police kept a watchful eye on proceedings from the upper car park.

Truro Hall’s parking lots were overflowing with friends and family of Williams.

Later, a rowdy funeral procession made its way to Mountain Rise cemetery for the burial. Women screamed as the cars passed by and motorbikes revved their engines to top-pitch. People hung out of car windows, making hand gestures as if they were firing guns.

Riot vehicles and police cars from across the province stood at the sides, with heavily armed officers lining Chota Motala Road inside and outside the cemetery walls in anticipation of violence.

Once again the sound of screeching tyres and the smell of burning rubber filled the air as mourners — many drinking alcohol — cheered on those performing donuts near the cemetery entrance in Williams’s honour.

At one point, cars performed wild donuts in the mud, careening close to the crowds, who screamed in excitement and parted to make way for the cars.

Shots were also fired, but Ebrahim said no one was injured.

An unrelated funeral took place elsewhere in the cemetery, with the mourners doing their best to block out the noise from the Williams funeral.

Ebrahim said three more people were arrested at Mountain Rise and charged for the theft of a car after police intelligence officials heard that a stolen car would be brought to the funeral, possibly to be burnt in a ritual there.

When police spotted the car, they swooped and arrested the three, one of whom is also a relative of Williams.

The crowd later made their way back to Truro Hall, where they had a meal, with more wheel spinning in the carpark.

Ebrahim said although the proceedings were tense, they went off fairly well. She said crime intelligence officers were working on information received concerning the rumours of the existence of a hit-list.

“Rumours have been circulating since the death of Williams. We are following everything up.”

WILLIAMS was killed in a shootout with police in Montrose on April 30.

Williams, believed to be the ringleader of a sophisticated six-man gang, may have been responsible for between 80 and 100 cases of housebreaking, business robbery and car theft in Pietermaritzburg and surrounding areas.

He and his gang had allegedly targeted a car parked at the Keg and Hedgehog, but, acting on a tip, officers of the Combined Action Unit (CAT) and the Hawks swooped in, resulting in a fierce gun battle which ended in the deaths of Williams and another gang member, Zwazi Ngubo.

A NORTHDALE couple, who would not be named, said they were threatened by mourners as they tried to drive past Ian Williams’s funeral yesterday evening.

The couple said they were driving along Old Greytown Road when they saw people pulling cars over and banging on their bonnets with their fists.

“They were banging on the cars and screaming at the drivers,” said the couple.

“We were at the Mysore Road intersection by Standard Bank. We were trying to turn right when a car with three men stopped right in front of us.

“They started banging their fists on the bonnet of our car, and screaming at us not to move forward.”

The couple said they were eventually able to get past and made a quick getaway. “We were quite scared. It was an horrific experience. We thought they were going to beat us.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  funeral

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