Thabiso Goba
4 minute read
16 Mar 2022
06:04

Drug turf war believed to be behind mass shooting in Umlazi, Durban

Thabiso Goba

There are strong suspicions from the community of Umlazi that a drug turf war is behind the killing of six men in a mass shooting.

There are strong suspicions from the community of Umlazi that a drug turf war is behind the killing of six men in a mass shooting.

On Monday afternoon, seven armed men opened fire at a house in the Sthaba informal settlement, Umlazi N-section, Durban. In the aftermath, six men died while two were seriously injured and taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

Police have not released the names of the dead men yet.

The Witness visited the site where the men were killed.

Neighbours said that the house the men were sitting in is known as “Kwa-Merchant”, where people buy and smoke dagga.

The house is situated among densely packed corrugated iron shacks and about 10 metres down a very steep slope and as a result cars cannot get to the house.

Bongiwe Khumalo, who rents a nearby house with her two children and mother, said they are still shocked.

Khumalo said she was not at home when the shooting happened but arrived shortly afterwards and saw a line of bloodstained bodies.

“We have not slept since then because the police have left and we don’t know if these people will return or not. If it was up to me I would take my family and move to another place but it’s not that easy,” she said.

Khumalo said she briefly knew the men who died, as people in the small rental block kept to themselves.

Sanele Shabalala (35) was one of the men killed. He lived in Sthaba along with his family.

His father, Zamukuthula Radebe, said Shabalala left home to smoke at the house as he usually does.

“I found his lifeless body just outside the house, which means he was making a run for it but they shot him.”
Victim’s father Zamukuthula Radebe

“We heard incessant gunshots and everyone just went inside their homes. After a couple of minutes, the entire community was gathered outside that house,” said Radebe.

He said some young boys told him that his son was hurt and he needed to go up to the house.

“I found his lifeless body just outside the house, which means he was making a run for it but they shot him,” said an emotional Radebe.

He said Shabalala was unemployed and usually got temporary jobs every now and then.

Radebe said he knew his son’s nickname was “Xhwele”, which meant that he smoked. “We knew he smoked but it was never something serious that would make him a target for police, the community or anything like that. He was a good boy that maybe got in with the wrong crowd of friends,” he said.

Thoko Zikhali is the grandmother of Andile Zikhali (31), who was also killed.

She said after the gunshots there were people who came to her house and told her Andile was dead.

“I could not go down to the house because the terrain was horrible so we waited in the rain until the police came with his body and I could identify him,” she said.

The grandmother and Andile lived together. Even though Andile was unemployed, Zikhali said he took care of food and necessities around the house.

A young Andile Zikhali, the only photo his grandmother has of him.PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Andile is originally from uMhlabuyalingana and after dropping out of school in his matric year, he moved to Durban to live with his grandmother and look for employment.

He had a five-year-old daughter back at home, she said.

Zikhali said she has heard the drug allegations that have surrounded the mass shooting.

“Andile smoked like all boys do but he never told me that he had enemies or anything like that. No one has ever come to my house searching for Andile in a bad way, this was all so sudden and shocking,” she said.

Professor Nkabinde, chairperson of the Umlazi Community Police Forum, said there was a serious drug problem in the area and police were overwhelmed.

Nkabinde said it is worrying that mass shootings are becoming frequent in the area.

Police said no arrests have been made yet.

Sanele Shabalala, one of the six men who were killed in the mass shooting.PHOTO: SUPPLIED