Violence at Umlazi’s Glebelands hostel claimed its 91st victim this week

28 July 2017 - 07:03 By Matthew Savides
Glebelands Hostel. File photo.
Glebelands Hostel. File photo.

The sound of gunshots echoed through Glebelands Hostel at 8.15pm on Wednesday night, clearly heard even above the usual noise in the Umlazi precinct.

Next were screams as a man, just 32, lay bleeding. He had been shot in the head close to the hostel’s Block P he called home.

Help was called, but it was too late. He would die in a nearby hospital not long after.

His was the 90th life snuffed out in violence linked to Glebelands and its power tussles.

But this would not be the last death that night. More blood would be shed.

At 8.30pm two men walked up to a tuckshop pretending to be customers.

As the woman attended to their request, more gunshots ripped through the air.

The grandmother was struck in the head and chest. She lay dead inside the shop that doubled as her home, her 14-year-old grandchild bearing witness to the crime.

The 91st life snuffed out at Glebelands.

With just 15 minutes separating the killings, it seems likely that they were somehow tied up in Glebelands ’ tangled web of violence.

“Police are in an early stage of investigation,” said SAPS spokesman Colonel Thembeka Mbhele, but added that no link had been established.

Community activist Vanessa Burger, who last week testified at the Moerane Commission into political violence in KwaZuluNatal, said that the two victims pushed the total number of murders either at – or linked to – Glebelands closer towards the 100 mark in just over two years. 

“The body count claimed by hit men from one hostel alone now tops 91,” she said.

Despite the 91 deaths, and even some arrests, there has not been a single conviction. Wednesday ’s murders came just a day after the eThekwini municipality announced it was spending as much as R3-million on an imbizo targeting hostel dwellers.

As many as 12 000 were slated to attend the event, which according to the city will be characterised by “prayers, traditional dances and displays by government line departments with messages from political principals”.

Mayor Zandile Gumede told the municipality’s executive committee: “This is about treating hostel people with dignity. We want to spread the word and get everyone together and talk to them. Information is power.”