The residents of Percy Fitzpatrick Street are outraged

The funeral proceedings of a Lowveld biker unlocked controversy among community members.

The residents of Percy Fitzpatrick Street are outraged after the events that transpired in their street during the past few days.

A funeral, which was intended to be a celebration of life, turned out to be more like a war zone.

Percy Fitzpatrick Street. >Photo: Yolandi Hyman

The empty bullet casings strewn along Percy Fitzpatrick Street were the silent evidence of hundreds of gunshots that were fired during the “after-tears celebration” on December 29 and 30.

Reggie M’Reje Mdhluli (34), a member of the Sun Riders Motorcycle Club, was killed in a motor vehicle accident on December 22.

Mdlhuli’s wife was injured in the accident and is being treated in Mediclinic Nelspruit.

ALSO READ: Lowveld community in shock over double murder on Christmas Day

After the memorial service on December 29 and the funeral on December 30, the family decided to hold an “after-tears celebration” on both evenings in Percy Fitzpatrick Street.

The ward councillor for the DA, Thea Rix, said that permission for the event was requested earlier that week. She refused to grant permission and referred it to law enforcement.

Law enforcement, in turn, advised the family and friends that the correct procedure should be followed to require permission to close the road.

The process was followed and the request was declined.

The matter was then escalated to the general manager of Mbombela, who approved the request for the closure of the road.

The general manager advised Rix that the event would start at 18:00 and end at 02:00 the following morning.

Communication to the Stonehenge community was sent, informing them of the closure of the road.

On December 31, Lowvelder spoke to some of the residents. The residents of the street wished to remain anonymous as they feared for their safety.

ALSO READ: WATCH: Tour operator who clung overnight to game-viewing vehicle in raging Komati River rescued

“The funeral celebrations started at the family’s home on December 25. On December 29 the event continued until around 01:00. There were cars and bakkies parked in our front yard. We were too afraid to ask the men to leave,” said a resident of Percy Fitzpatrick Street.

On December 29 at around 20:00, gunshots were fired, said Shaun Terblanche of J&M Security.

He added that about 250 to 300 gunshots were fired during the evening.

According to an attorney from VZLR Inc. in Mbombela, “Section 120(7) of the Firearms Control Act 60 of 2000 states that it is an offence to discharge a firearm in a built-up area or public place without a good reason to do so.”

Rix said that she received a lot of complaints.

At 23:40 on December 29 she decided to go to Percy Fitzpatrick Street.

“Motorcycles were driving up and down, bikes were being revved and gunshots were fired,” said Rix.

A resident of Percy Fitzpatrick Street said that her parents fetched her young children on December 30 after gunshots were again fired and “donuts” were performed in the street.

At 21:00 on December 30 the celebrations ended.

Tyre marks in Percy Fitzpatrick Street. > Photo: Yolandi Hyman.

“I doubt anyone can approve of guns being fired. It is lawlessness,” said City of Mbombela mayor, Sibongile Makushe-Mazibuko.

Bullet casings in the street. >Photo: Supplied Thea Rix.

When Lowvelder spoke to the Mdhluli family, Make Wa Lathabo said that the family did not want to be harassed and that they did not wish to comment on any of the questions asked by Lowvelder.

Joseph Ngala, spokesperson for the City Mbombela, said, “This was a funeral service for the family and the only permission granted was for a temporary closure of the street, as there are alternative routes. Anything outside the approval is strongly condemned and has been taken up with the family by the city’s law enforcement personnel.”

The street is now open for all residents in the area, said Ngala.

The residents of the street are upset about what transpired but relieved that the event is over.

At around 08:00 this morning the family and friends of Mdhluli gathered and started to clean the street.

Ernest Mthethwa, a close friend of the deceased is cleaning the street. >Photo: Yolandi Hyman.
Back to top button