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The ‘kill or get killed zone’

01 October 2017 5:19 AM
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The victims of Friday night’s murders were all men, aged between 25 and 40.

They were gunned down in four different incidents within an hour of each other shortly after 7pm.

In the first incident, four men were shot dead at a tavern. The killers then went next door and opened fire on a group of four other men who were sitting in the house, killing them.

Two blocks away the body of a security guard was found on the street. He had been shot twice.

The tavern’s owner, who asked not to be identified, said she was doing the dishes when she heard gunshots in the section of her home that was used as a shebeen.

“There must have been over 15 shots that rang out and I just hid under the table covering my head praying that they don’t come over and shoot me,” she said.

The mother of the youngest victim from the tavern, Nonesi Jokazi, 48, said her son, Lubabalo, 25, had just left the house when she heard the gunshots.

“I closed the door immediately and then I immediately thought of my son fearing that he might be caught in the shootings but praying that he was safe.

“I ran out and was told the shooting was at the tavern where he was playing pool and I went and found him lying face down on the floor and I knew he was dead.”

Siphindile Magwaxaza, 34, whose twin brother Ntandazo also died at the tavern said he also could not believe it was his brother who he found bleeding on the floor.

“I got there and found all of them huddled under the table and I turned it over to check if any of them were alive but they were dead,” he said.

Residents told the Weekend Argus their community was plagued by criminals who preyed on the vulnerable day and night.

“If you were to walk in Marikana at night, you would be afraid of the slightest noise or sudden movement because chances are you will get robbed,” said resident Mapaseka Mneli.

“I myself have been robbed twice this week and had my house broken into last month and had someone who had been stabbed while getting robbed run into my shack while escaping his attackers back in June.

“That is our reality here and the police are worse than toothless dogs because at least the dog is there but they do not come out when they are called to Marikana.

“This is why people kill these boys because we are tired of always being victims.”

Residents have formed patrol units that scour the majority of Marikana and sections of neighbouring Lower Crossroads and assault those identified as troublemakers.

This week alone, seven people were killed near the area, with five men beaten to death on Tuesday night.

Police confirmed that the seven murders were “believed to be vigilante murders”.

On September 12, three men were burnt to death in the area. This was followed by the stoning of another suspected thief two days later.

He has tried to engage with police to bring something concrete to residents in order to get them to stop.

“I called a meeting with the station commander at Philippi-East in order to get some form of answers on what actions the police will take to take back to residents to get them to stop with the patrols.

“However, we did not get very far so therefore I am unable to go to the community and tell them what to do when I am empty-handed,” he said.

“When I did speak to the police, they informed me that as of Wednesday there had been 28 murders in Philippi-East just this month.

“They did not tell me which ones were mob justice and which ones are murders but that goes to show how unsafe the people feel.”

O Saturday, fed-up residents marched to the Philippi-East police station and occupied the charge office for over three hours demanding to see the province’s Police Commissioner General Khombinkosi Jula.

The arrival of riot police who quickly put on their protective gear angered residents.

“This is all they know, coming here with so many vans to beat and assault us for demanding they do their jobs and protect us from criminals who have taken over our community and turned it into the wild, wild, west,” complained a resident.

“Where were they on Friday when 14 people were shot and 11 killed. It would have been nice if at least half of them would patrol our area, then we wouldn’t need to be here,” the resident added.

Community leaders on Saturday called on Police Minister Fikile Mbalula to intervene saying the entire staff at Philippi-East needed to be replaced.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Novela Potelwa said Jula placed Phillipi East station under the care of a Deputy Provincial Commissioner Major-General Mpumelelo Manci, a former station commissioner of Nyanga station.

“He will be supported by a team comprising specialist detectives, intelligence operatives and high-risk units such as Tactical Response Team members, the National Intervention Unit and other forces,” Potelwa said.

“Forces on the ground are currently executing search operations that are set to continue throughout the weekend,” she added.

But by late Saturday Potelwa said the police had not yet made any arrests.


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