HORROR WEEKEND IN KZN: A total of 14 people were killed in two shootings and a crash in Ezakheni, Ladysmith on October 11.Image: Sapapics
• 5 killed in car-wash shooting
• Gunmen open fire on Mercedes-Benz
• 8 killed trying to avoid shoot-out.
LADYSMITH, kwaZulu-Natal - Imagine this scenario: You're sitting at a car wash waiting for your ride to be cleaned when gunmen open fire on a vehicle and its five passengers. Or perhaps you're travelling in a VW Kombi with several other passengers and are forced to a avoid a drive-by shooting ahead.
Sadly, these are not plots for Hollywood crime thrillers but the grim reality of South Africa's roads, in particular last weekend in kwaZulu-Natal.
What's worse, the deadly car-wash shooting was one of TWO fatal shoot-outs in Ladysmith. Afterward, KwaZulu-Natal's premier promised that such incidents of violence would be 'nipped in the bud'.
DEADLY CAR-WASH SHOOTING
A total of 14 people were killed in two shootings and a crash in Ezakheni, Ladysmith on October 11, KZN police on Sunday (Oct 12).
Captain Thulani Zwane said five people were killed at a car wash in Ezakheni's B-Section in Ladysmith when gunmen opened fire on them. In a separate shooting, nine people were killed on Peters Road. All incidents occured on Saturday (Oct 11).
Zwane said: "The five, all men, were sitting at the car wash around 6.30pm (Oct 11) when occupants of a Toyota Avanza opened fire towards them. All five were fatally wounded. The motive is unknown and no arrests have been made."
Police found spent cartridges from R5 rifles and 9mm pistols at the scene.
Zwane said it was unclear if the shooting was linked to another shoot-out in Ladysmith earlier on Oct 11.
SAME DAY, ANOTHER DEADLY SHOOTING
He said a Mercedes-Benz carrying five people was travelling along Peters Road, Ezakheni followed by a Volkswagen Polo. Occupants of the Polo opened fire, causing the Mercedes driver to lose control, killing one person and injuring four others.
A further eight people died when a VW Kombi, travelling on the same road, tried to avoid the shooting.
Zwane said: "Occupants of the VW Polo opened fire towards the Mercedes and as a result control of the car was lost. One person died in the Mercedes, four others were taken to hospital."
Police opened a case of murder and four counts of attempted murder but no arrests have been made. The shooting was followed by another crash on the same road.
Zwane said: "A kombi that was following the two vehicles (Mercedes and Polo) had a head-on collision with an oncoming truck." The kombi driver was trying to avoid the shooting. Four occupants died at the scene and several others were taken to hospital. Zwane added: "Later, four others died in hospital."
Eight counts of culpable homicide were opened.
'LOST FOR WORDS'
KwaZulu-Natal premier Senzo Mchunu expressed shock at the incidents: "We (ANC) are lost for words and we send our condolences to the families of the deceased. We condemn the brutal nature of crime that has been committed. I am in constant contact with the MEC for transport and community safety Willies Mchunu who is in Ladysmith today to ascertain exactly what caused this tragedy."
Mchunu viewed the violence in Ladysmith as "intolerable". "We will do everything in our power to ensure that the recurrence of such destructive behaviour is nipped in the bud. I want to assure the people of this province that our security machinery will take all necessary steps to ensure that peace prevails and that any unruly elements found to be violating the rights of others face the might of the law."
Wheels24 is sure its readers in KZN are greatly reassured.
Provincial police commissioner Lt-Gen Mmamonnye Ngobeni said she was saddened by the news and sent her condolences to the affected families.
Ngobeni said: "We appeal to the community to work with the police in solving these cases by providing information that will lead to the arrest of the perpetrators."
Why do deadly shootings occur on SA's roads? What do you think should be done to prevent such incidents? Should the KZN premier do more than express 'shock' at the shootings? Email usand we'll publish your thoughts on Wheels24.