SIGODINI Village in Edendale might look like a quiet area with a mix of middle-class and poor dwellings.
However, local residents are uneasy about the recent trend of wanted criminals using the area as a hideout when they on the run from the police.
Khetha “Bhejane” Nxele, the most wanted suspect in the killing of six family members in Ntshongweni on October 26, is thought to be the latest fugitive to hide in the area. Residents say he arrived on Monday morning at his uncle’s mud house and hung around in a nearby shop the whole day.
In the evening, about 20 heavily armed police officers, including dog unit members and the Hawks, arrived in about 10 vehicles and exchanged gunfire with Nxele, who managed to escape.
The Khalanyoni section of Sigodini is made up of many houses closely built to each other. There are also lots of trees.
Residents said yesterday that after the shoot-out, Nxele was seen leaving with his bags.
They said they could not believe that the “gentle-looking man” they hung out with was the fugitive they had read about.
“During the day he came to the shop to buy soft drinks and biscuits.
“He sat under the tree with Tsotsi [a local young man]. Later in the day he bought another soft drink,” said a resident.
Mduduzi Mthembu said the same man later offered him dagga, which he refused.
“I was suspicious of him although I have previously seen him twice in his uncle’s house,” said Mthembu.
Another man said that at about 7 pm a Toyota Corolla with two men pulled over near the shop and parked for a while.
“Then when the suspect left the shop the men in the vehicle spoke on a two-way-radio.
“When three police vehicles approached the shop, the suspect fired two shots at them before he ran away up the mountain toward the main road [from Elandskop].
“Police retaliated and continued shooting even when the suspect had disappeared.
“There were heavily armed police with two sniffer dogs, but they kept running up and down instead of following him,” said Vusi Ntshangase.
Community members said they are prepared to help police to apprehend the suspect.
“We cannot keep such a killer in the area because this places our lives in danger,” said one.
Mthembu said he had previously chased away some of his relatives who had come from other areas to hide from police.
Police spokesperson Brigadier Phindile Radebe said the investigation is on track.