Woodlands residents living in fear over gunshots fired ‘for comrade’

2019-10-01 16:35
PHOTO: CATERS/WWW.MAGAZINEFEATURES.CO.ZA

PHOTO: CATERS/WWW.MAGAZINEFEATURES.CO.ZA

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Woodlands residents were forced to take shelter at home at the weekend whilst firearms were fired at a funeral, believed to be of a Mkhonto weSizwe war veteran, in the area.

A resident, who asked not to be named in fear of victimisation, said that for the past week, there have been people shooting every day at Happy Valley informal settlement on Otto’s Bluff Road between Syringa and Camphor roads.

The resident said the shooting started on Monday last week and has been taking place every night since.

“There have been different reports that an ANC comrade passed on and this is in his honour, which is totally unacceptable.

“Mountain Rise police station is of no help. Police come out and soon leave,” she said.

The woman said she saw a group of people wearing ANC T-shirts walking on Otto’s Bluff Road towards the entrance of Northway Spar following the coffin towards the cemetery.

“There were definitely more than 100 gunshots fired. The whole community was in a total panic. A resident called 10111 and was told that police were aware [of this] and that there was a van in the area attending to other complaints should it be needed.

“That is utter [nonsense]. Is shooting a firearm in public legal? I am sure that if those people who were shooting were checked out, most of them do not own a firearm licence,” said the resident.

In April, The Witness reported that a Northdale man and his wife, who live right next to Otto’s Bluff Road, got the shock of their lives when a stray bullet passed through the roof and ceiling of their home, landing on his study desk.

On Saturday, Weekend Witness reported that a local woman, Heather Cubbins, was struck and injured by a stray bullet while socialising with friends at the Natal Canoe Club recently. She had to undergo surgery to remove the bullet.

On Monday, The Witness was inundated with complaints from irate Woodlands residents about the scary, loud bangs from the funeral at the community hall there.

One resident said as he was reading the article in Weekend Witness about the woman who was shot.

“We had to sit in fear not knowing when a bullet will penetrate the roofs over our heads, or even a blind bullet striking our bodies.”

The resident said the ward councillor, Shawn Adkins, was aware of the matter but did nothing, so many of them called 10111 to report the matter.

“We had lots of police patrolling the area yet there were still many shots fired from handguns to semi-automatic guns.

“To the police at Mountain Rise police station, step up your game, we put our safety in your hands. This shooting has been going off since Monday,” he said.

Another “very angry” resident, said she finds it ridiculous that when members from the armed forces get buried and use their community hall, they are allowed to shoot into the air for two days.

“We have children, the elderly, as well as ordinary people who are now restricted from walking around freely because they fear stray bullets. All the cops do is observe. It is so unfair on us residents on so many levels,” she said.

Councillor Adkins said he was aware of the matter which “we ... reported ... to Mountain Rise SAPS. An undertaking was given from officials to provide sufficient policing in the area. However, residents still feel this was inadequate.”

Menzi Mkhize, Mkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) regional secretary, said there was a funeral for MK veteran Vusi Jabulani Dladla, in Woodlands at the weekend, but denied that any firearms were discharged.

“No firearms were discharged at the funeral. It is also possible that residents in the area might have been firing guns and some people thought it was those attending the funeral. Members of the MKMVA know and understand that discharging a firearm in a public and in a residential area is illegal and very dangerous. We stopped doing this years ago,” said Mkhize.

Attempts to get comment from Mountain Rise police station were unsuccessful on Monday.

‘Illegal and dangerous’ to fire gun in public

Trevor Thompson, a gun expert and a prominent firearm dealer in the city, said besides it being illegal to discharge a gun in public, it was also extremely dangerous.

“Most people don’t realise that the average firearm has quite a long range and can still injure and hurt somebody even if you fire it up in the air at the right trajectory.

“The bullet will come down with sufficient energy that can still do damage to property, injure, or even worse, kill someone. Generally, its never a clever idea to fire a firearm into the air in a public area,” he said.

Thompson said he thinks the people who fire guns into the air at funerals as part of their rituals were attracted by the loud bangs and suggested fireworks as a safer alternative.

He said most people do a competency test before they get a gun licence where they are told they cannot fire a gun in public when there is no good or life-threatening reason to do so.

Thompson also made reference to the Firearms Control Act 60 of 2000 that stipulates that, in terms of Section 120(3)(b), it is an offence to discharge a firearm, an antique firearm or an airgun in a “manner likely to injure or endanger the safety or property of any person or with reckless disregard for the safety or property of any person” and the Act further elaborates in Section 120(7) by providing that it is an offence to do so in a built-up area or any public place, without good reason to do so.


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