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By Thando Nondywana

News Reporter

Fear spreads as thugs gun down Joburg chemist

Residents have threatened to shut down entrances to the area until the government attends to their concerns.

Despite additional police deployments in the Westbury area, a dark cloud continues to loom over the crime-riddled Johannesburg suburb.

Residents have threatened to shut down entrances to the area until the government attends to their concerns.

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This is after pharmacist Faizel McKenzie, 47, was gunned down outside his pharmacy in broad daylight on Monday.

Resident and business owner Anthony Mashaba described the death as a great loss for the community.

“Where are the people that need to protect us? They are always at the scene when it is too late.

“Westbury is a hotspot. The community is in need of a police presence and visibility throughout the day, but they are never around when needed,” he said.

Mashaba said at the time of the shooting he was inside his workshop and was alarmed by the gunshots. “I was busy with a client when the gunshots began.

“My wife and children were outside, and they scrambled to get cover.

“We waited for the sound to stop. When we went to check, three guys in balaclavas ran out of the pharmacy and in the other direction,” Mashaba recalled.

McKenzie, a father of two, started the pharmacy in 2015, and had recently relocated the business to a shopping centre on Hamilton Street.

‘A high-risk zone’

A local businessman, who asked not to be named, said the business centre had become a high-risk zone.

“We’re living in fear here because I don’t know if I’m next. Now they’re attacking business people and it’s not right.

“I want to give up my business rather because we are being terrorised by the gangs.

“I don’t know if it is me tomorrow. We are in fear of who could be the next target,” he said.

The businessman, who has been running a business there for 12 years, said the gang violence and shootings had reached unbearable levels.

Two years ago, two boys were killed in a hail of bullets at the same business centre a few metres from where McKenzie died.

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“I have known Faizel for a very long time. What is going to happen to the pharmacy?

“I am shattered because people were relying on it, especially old and vulnerable people,” the businessman said.

“The pharmacy served the community. He was always compassionate and went out of his way to help them.”

Police Minister Bheki Cele and police top brass visited Westbury last month to assess the high crime levels.

They had assured the community that police had put “temporary measures” in place.

At the time of the visit, authorities and residents said 13 people had been shot and two fatally wounded in at least six incidents.

“This community deserves better than what is happening at the present moment,” Cele said at the time.

“We will be spending some time in this community going forward. The boots on the ground will increase.”

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Newly appointed Gauteng police commissioner Tommy Mthombeni visited the area last week, and promised police would deploy 200 police officers to gang hotspots, including Westbury, Eldorado Park, Ennerdale and Riverlea.

Earlier in the month, Ashwyn McCabe was shot dead in an apparent hit. PR councillor in the City of Joburg Ronald Harris said the incidents in the area pointed to the police’s failure to respond to the crisis.

He said that the Sophiatown police station was unable to solve crimes. “It’s a farce. Nothing has happened. Our police seemingly are incapable of finding these people.

“When the police minister left, everything went with him and it was just back to square one.

“Our biggest challenge is that the police have just abandoned the community of Westbury,” Harris said. “They ride around in their cars. They don’t stop and search anybody,” he added.

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Crime Murder Westbury

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