Residents in Richmond are concerned for their safety following the spike in drug-related murders in their small town, in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands.
This comes after the death of eight people who were killed in an alleged drug den on Friday. Seven men and one girl, aged between 15 and 41 years old, were shot dead. Two other people are in hospital.
KZN police spokesperson Brigadier Jay Naicker said the community told the police the house was being used as a drug den and it was suspected that the attack might have been drug-related.
Eight counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder are under investigation by Richmond SAPS.
A Richmond resident, who asked not to be named, said drug-related crime was worryingly on the increase in their town. The resident alleged that most people, including some police officers, knew where drugs were sold.
“The police really need to come to the party and stop this because the town is now becoming one major drug den,” said the resident. “All kinds of drugs are being sold right under the police’s noses.
“They also know where they are sold and who’s selling them but they are not doing anything about it.”
A retired police officer, Doep du Plessis, said with the increasing number of crimes in Richmond, the community felt helpless because the alleged perpetrators were not being arrested.
“We literally don’t have police here and we rely more on private security companies and community policing forums, who are always patrolling the area.
“They are making us feel safe but we also can’t blame the police since they are … understaffed,” said Du Plessis.
He added hat apart from murder, cable theft was becoming a big challenge. There were times where communities were left without electricity for days because of cable theft which, he said, then gave criminals more opportunity to target people’s homes and businesses.
Six people killed in Amaoti
In a separate mass shooting incident six men, aged between 17 and 26, were killed in the Amaoti area in Inanda on Friday. The attack was also alleged to be drug-related. Brigadier Naicker said the group was sitting behind a local tuckshop taking drugs when three people ambushed them.
The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal has also expressed their concerns over the spike in mass shootings and killings in the province. ANC’s provincial spokesperson, Nhlakanipho Ntombela said one of the major challenges faced by communities was the issue of drug abuse and drug lords fighting for territorial control in order to trade with impunity and pursue their criminal acts.
“We call on the government and police in particular to close the space and squeeze these criminals wherever they are found. It can’t be business as usual for criminals to run amok and instil continuous fear in our communities in a democratic state,” said Ntombela.
He said KZN had shown an increase in criminal mass killings in the recent crime stats. “The majority of these criminals and drug lords are known for they operate with impunity because some of the law enforcement agents are in their pockets,” Ntombela said.
He called on people to report these criminals who instil fear and mayhem in their communities.
“We firmly believe that there are a few of these rotten potatoes within the security establishment, not all our police are corrupt,” said Ntombela.