Pietermaritzburg assassination shocks community

Heavily armed men, believed to belong to a private security company, allegedly manhandled bystanders on the crime scene.

A 31-year-old man, believed to be a businessman, was gunned down after an unknown number of suspects opened fire into his vehicle at the Manning Avenue and Orthman Road intersection in Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal yesterday.

It believed, but not officially confirmed, that the man was involved in the taxi industry. However, a local taxi boss maintained that the incident had no links to the industry.

The VW Golf was driving down Manning Avenue when it came under heavy gunfire as it reached the traffic signal at the intersection.

In the aftermath, the intersection resembled a movie scene. The road was closed off to traffic while paramedics resorted to controlling traffic on the congested Ohrtmann Road. Heavily-armed men in plain clothes at the scene initially outnumbered the police, with only one van of the men in blue visible.

It was not clear where the victim was coming from or where he was headed, but both the passenger’s and driver’s windows of his car were riddled with bullet holes.

A bystander on the scene said it was scary to see many heavily-armed men but ‘very few’ police at the scene.

“I work down the same road, we were loading when the shooting happened. There must have been more than one man involved and they wanted to make sure that they did not miss their target. As we got to the scene, bullet casings were all over the place.

“We expected police to be in control of the scene but we saw plain clothed [some in black clothes believed to be private security from the taxi industry] men with machine guns standing in one group while others posted themselves in strategic positions at the intersection. It was like a movie scene,” said the man, who asked to remain unnamed.

While crime experts gathered and documented evidence emanating from trajectories based on impact marks, a reporter and members of the public were manhandled and forced to delete pictures of the scene by at least two men who claimed to be relatives of the dead man.

Emotions ran high, two men who were armed with pistols continued to force anyone who was taking crime scene pictures to delete them.

“What do you think you are doing? We don’t even know who you are and you come here and take pictures. This is our brother and we are not happy with you taking pictures,” said one of the men as he grabbed and threw the phone of an onlooker to the ground.

The onlooker was forced to delete the pictures he had taken. At least four people, including a The Witness reporter, were forced to do the same by the same men.

Eastwood Taxi Association (ETA) chairperson Peter Petersen who was at the scene, told the newspaper that commuters and communities around Eastwood, Panorama, Beacon Hill, and Thembalihle were safe.

“Look, it is just unfortunate that this incident happened along our route and it’s got nothing to do with ETA. As taxi owners and local community members, we are all shell-shocked and still puzzled,” says Petersen.

He says it was ‘unbelievable’ to see several private security personnel attached to the taxi industry openly carrying firearms or automatic rifles at the crime scene.

“It’s just so risky for everybody and just look at this. SAPS members are outnumbered and no traffic cops at all. Wherever you turn, you only see people with big guns.”

KZN police spokesperson Constable Thenjiswa Ngcobo says the Mountain Rise police are investigating a murder case following the shooting.

The victim’s name was not released by the time of publication.

Read original story on www.citizen.co.za

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