News / South Africa / Crime

Thobele Nzama
4 minute read
19 Aug 2020
11:05 am

Drive-by shootings, stabbings, murders spike in Wentworth

Thobele Nzama

An increased number of criminal acts have been recorded since February, with at least four serious incidents taking place during lockdown alone. 

Wentworth, in Durban South, is the scene of a spate of drive-by shootings and murders. Photo: Breathing Spaces: Environmental Portraits of Durban's Industrial South/Marijke du Toit and Jenny Gordon/Scielo South Africa

The Durban South township of Wentworth has yet again been labelled unsafe, following a series of drive-by shootings, stabbings and murders, reports Southlands Sun.

An increased number of criminal acts have been recorded since February, with at least four serious incidents taking place during lockdown alone.

Lansdowne Road drive-by shooting

On the evening of 3 February, Heidi von Schaffer was shot in the head during a drive-by shooting while on her way home.

Von Schaffer is said to be in a coma at King Edward VIII hospital after surviving the incident.

Wentworth councillor Aubrey Snyman said that it was widely suspected by the community that the shooters were searching for someone involved in the local drug ring.

“The exchange of shootings started on Sunday and the community is very angry and upset. Heidi was an innocent passer-by who got hit in the cross-fire,” he said.

Concerned Lansdowne Road resident, Lynn Small voiced her concern of the abundance of drug dealing taking place in the area. Small said the dealers are often from surrounding areas, but continue to put the safety of Wentworth residents at risk.

After a community meeting chaired by Snyman and Wentworth police on 4 February, it was decided that a shelter initially built for social and recreational purposes that had been taken over by drug dealers. The centre was being used as a drug den, residents and Wentworth CPF chairman, Pastor Donovan Anderson said.

After several phone calls by Wentworth police station commander, Colonel Willem Van Zyl, authorisation to ambush the said shelter was granted by SAPS.

Eight suspects were arrested when police raided the den, who were refusing the structure to be demolished, said provincial police spokesperson, Brigadier Jay Naicker. They appeared in the Wentworth Magistrate’s Court on 5 February.

The illegal structure was later dismantled by residents.

A man linked to a number of cases, including a drive-by shooting in Wentworth, was arrested and appeared in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on 5 August.

Police officers from the eThekwini District Trio Task Team arrested the 21-year-old man on two counts of attempted murder after a 36-year-old man and his friend were shot and injured on Lansdowne Road on 30 July.

“Two male victims were driving in a silver-grey VW Polo along Lansdowne Road, when a VW Golf 5, with an unknown registration number, followed them from behind and flashed their lights. The Golf 5 then suddenly drove parallel to them. Shots were fired from the suspects’ vehicle to the victims’ vehicle at random.

“Serious bodily injuries were sustained by both the driver and passenger. The suspects then drove off. The victims, a driver aged 31 and a passenger aged 21 managed to drive themselves to Wentworth Hospital for medical assistance,” said Wentworth police spokesperson, Captain Mbuso Gumede.

“Further charges include cases of robbery, malicious damage to property and another case of attempted murder. It is alleged that on 27 July, two men fired shots at a 22-year-old male while he was at his residential premises on Hime Street,” said provincial spokesperson, Colonel Thembeka Mbele.

“Unlicenced firearms and drive-by shootings are happening practically every day. The reports are to the extent that innocent victims are getting caught in the crossfire. A comedian was shot at on Lansdowne Road and a woman in a car on Tifflin Road on the Friday before that,” said Pastor Anderson.

Chamberlain Road drive-by shooting

A twenty-nine-year-old man died in Wentworth Hospital after sustaining a gunshot wound in an alleged drive-by shooting on Chamberlain Road on 14 August.

Gumede said an occupant from an unknown vehicle fired shots at the victim’s car and fled. The man died minutes after arriving at the hospital.

“The motive for his shooting is unknown and a case of murder is under investigation,” said Gumede confirmed.

Hime Street murder

A 20-year-old man appeared in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on 4 August for the murder of a 17-year-old boy. The suspect was arrested by police officers from the eThekwini District Trio Task Team.

According to police, on the evening of 31 July, 17-year-old Donell Potgieter was stabbed in the chest by the accused at a home on Hime Street in Wentworth.

“The suspect fled the scene on foot. The victim was taken to the hospital for medical attention. He was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. A case of murder was opened at Wentworth police station for investigation.

“Police officers worked tirelessly to solve the case and apprehend the suspect who was arrested on Sunday, 2 August. He was detained at Wentworth police station where he was charged for murder,” said provincial spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele.

Sussex Place firearms bust

Detectives from the Provincial Organised Crime Unit and Metro Police conducted an intelligence-driven operation in the Wentworth policing area to combat crime and eliminate the increase of firearms on 21 June.

During the operation, police proceeded to Sussex Place where eight men were spotted and a search was conducted.

“Police found two pistols on the ground close to where the men were standing. The firearms were seized and the men were taken to the Wentworth police station for further investigation.

“While police were searching the suspects, gunshots were fired at them. The police officers were not injured and they conducted a follow-up operation, however, the shooters could not be located,” said Mbele.

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