Durban – Violence has been on the increase recently in Hammarsdale, giving the area the unenviable reputation of being one of eThekwini’s most dangerous suburbs.
In the past three months, more than 20 people have been shot and killed, with six of those deaths occurring this week when gunmen stormed into a home and killed the Msomi family as they watched TV.
While the motive for this latest wave of attacks was yet to be established, residents, community leaders and activists said it is usually drug-related.
“Drug dealing is rife all over the place,” said KZN violence monitor and analyst Mary de Haas.
“I have no inside information, but the patterns of killings sounds like it is some sort of rival gangs and may well be linked to drugs if the locals are complaining,” she said.
“The problem is that drug dealers make so much money that they can easily buy off police.
“A clean anti-corruption team to deal with organised crime is needed, but there doesn’t seem to be the political will to do so,” said De Haas.
A local resident, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, said: “The greatest challenge we face is drug dealers in all corners of Hammarsdale, but the police are of little help. The dealers’ dens are well known, but nothing happens,” said the resident.
Sibusiso Dlamini, Ward 5 councillor, said it was very discomforting to see people “dying like flies”.
“It is getting out of control because innocent people are also being killed. Even when police make arrests, people are terrified to testify. So it all comes to nothing,” said Dlamini.
Community activist Vanessa Burger said: “The main problem is accountability and the state has zero interest in serving the people.
“Government is failing and this is driving the socio-economic collapse, especially in poor communities, and this is causing heightened levels of violence.”
Burger said the country was awash with guns and some could be from the political violence of the 1990s.
“I heard rumours that there may be caches in the area, but there were also thousands of police guns in circulation.”
Former KZN legislature deputy speaker Meshack Radebe said regular raids to retrieve all the guns used in the apartheid wars were needed.
A policeman based at Hammarsdale, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they only had 49 officers at the local station and two vans.
“We need the minister (of police Bheki Cele) to intervene,” said the informant.
Lirandzu Themba, spokesperson for Cele, said: “The minister was briefed about Wednesday’s murders and at this stage there were no plans to send in reinforcements.”