South Africa

HANDGUNS AND RIFLES

Jabulani hostel shootings: Cele calls in special unit to track suspects

Jabulani hostel shootings: Cele calls in special unit to track suspects
Minister of Police is Bheki Cele. (Photo: GCIS/Jairus Mmutle)

As Police Minister Bheki Cele left the crime-ridden Jabulani Hostel following the gunning down of six men, a mother at the scene describes how she too had lost her son previously to crime at the hostel.

Police are looking for at least three suspects who might assist with information regarding the murder of six men at Jabulani Hostel on Sunday.  The six died during the shooting while a seventh was recovering in hospital, said police. 

“Preliminary investigations revealed that the victims were in a shack in Jabulani Hostel when three men armed with handguns and rifles started shooting at the shack from different positions. Five died at the scene, and one in the hospital; the seventh victim is still in hospital. The motive of the killing is unknown at this stage,” said a police statement released on Tuesday.

A woman told Daily Maverick on Monday how she had seen the men lying in pools of blood. “I found that the children were already sprawled on the ground in pools of their own blood,” said the 54-year old woman. “It was just after the prime time story, Makoti. The gunfire started. After that, I heard cries in that direction and I quickly rushed there.”

The killings have revived the pain she suffered when she lost her son, who was fatally stabbed at the Jabulani Hotel some time earlier.  “My own child was stabbed to death here at this hostel. The pain of losing my son that day was resuscitated when I witnessed the brutal killings,” said the woman, whose name is being withheld to protect her identity. As she spoke to Daily Maverick, some community members shouted abusive words at her. She ignored them.

She blamed the attack on alcohol, saying: “Reinstate the ban on alcohol, I don’t want to see it, ever my child. Crime is just too much when there is alcohol and people are drunk. Without alcohol, this place is calm … When alcohol was not allowed, none of this happened.”

However, some community members said that whether an alcohol ban was in place or not, crime was rife at the hostel all year round. Some community members said people were robbed of their personal belongings daily at the hostel. They said police were also reluctant to confront the perpetrators.

Police Minister General Bheki Cele told visibly shaken community members that the police planned to move swiftly to arrest the perpetrators to prevent the community from seeking revenge.

Community members said that since the ban on alcohol beverages was lifted on 1 June 2020, so had the sound of gunfire and crime returned to the hostel. The community members who gathered around the police minister, a number of them without masks, made a unanimous call for the ban to be renewed.

Cele said the motive for the killing of the men was still unknown. All six men came from the same area in KwaZulu-Natal.

Cele told Daily Maverick on Tuesday that the police have assembled a task team, a separate team from the units that have been widely deployed during the lockdown.

One man told Cele that crime levels had lowered drastically since the banning of alcohol sales, and that the shooting had revived their fear of staying at the hostel. “This simply means that we have to go back to sleeping with one eye closed,” he said.

Cele described the murder as “clear brutality”.

“There were seven people inside, originally there were 10. Three of them left, seven came in between. They just opened fire. 

Said Cele: “There was no aiming, they just wanted everybody dead. The fact that one survived and is in hospital is critical.”

Before leaving the area, Cele asked what should happen to alcohol, to which the crowd unanimously responded, “It must be prohibited.” DM

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