IN PICTURES | One dead, 10 arrested, one at large as cops probe taxi link to Tshwane shoot-out
At least one of the men involved in Wednesday's fatal shooting near the Tshwane District Hospital has been linked to ongoing taxi violence.
Police confirmed on Wednesday evening that one suspected gang member had been killed at the scene and that 10 people had been arrested — but one man had evaded capture and was at large.
It was this man, said Gauteng police spokesperson Brig Mathepelo Peters, who had been linked to taxi violence and was being sought by the law. She said police had been tracing him, and knew he was in the area of the hospital on Wednesday.
“The suspect was linked to taxi violence, and he was traced by police and this [the hospital area] is where he was. But, unfortunately, he managed to evade arrest.
“From what has been reported to us, the provincial task team that investigates taxi violence was on an intelligence-driven operation where they were tracking a suspect who is involved in taxi violence. Information led the police to the scene and, unfortunately, when police tried to intercept the suspects — as well as other three vehicles that they were travelling in- they allegedly started shooting. Police returned fire,” she said, speaking at the scene.
Peters said three police officers were injured and are in a stable condition in hospital.
“Of the suspects, we have nine who have been arrested, two of whom are in hospital. The tenth one was fatally wounded. There is also an eleventh suspect who was arrested because he was found on the scene with a firearm. That firearm was licensed. However, the ammunition was unlicensed.
“We have a total of four firearms that were recovered which will all be subjected to ballistic testing,” she said.
Peters said it was premature to link the incident to recent taxi-related violence in Marabastad, Pretoria.
“It is still early stages of the investigation. We want to give our detectives the space to investigate and try to link [facts], because we came here looking for one suspect and we ended up with 11,” she said. “So we still need to process them and profile them and see how they are linked to other crimes.”
'I thought I was going to die'
A street vendor, who would be identified only as Kuziba, said he heard gunshots while he was cooking.
“I didn't see any of the cars which were involved in the incident passing here because I was busy. To my surprise, I just heard several gunshots,” he said.
The 33-year-old said he hid behind a tree next to where he had set up his stall.
“I checked what was happening. I thought that a bullet might hurt me, so I decided to stand against the tree and only peek to see what was happening,” he said.
“It was the men in khaki [the colour worn by Gauteng police officers]. They were shooting at a Quantum and a maroon private car. Then I saw a woman from a distance raising her hands in surrender. I didn't see where she went after that.
“After some time, another man from the victims was trying to run and he was shot and he fell in front of the mortuary gate. The man was not an officer — he was not wearing a police uniform.”
Another street vendor in the area, Solly Maphuthuma, said he saw people shooting and took cover in his mobile kitchen.
“I just saw people shooting. I saw police arresting five people from a Quantum,” he said.
He said he started by running, but when he realised that there were a lot of bullets flying and he could be hit, he took cover inside his kitchen. Maphuthuma said he didn't see anything suspicious until the shooting started.
“I thought I was going to die — because even with running, I thought they were going to think that I am one of the suspects. So the best option was to stay inside,” he said.
He said he had to call his wife and child to come to the scene as he was still shaken.
“I didn't tell them it was hectic but they were surprised when they got here as to why I didn't tell them that it was hectic.”
Marvin Mkhonto, a funeral director who was in a van transporting a body at the time, said he was stopped by police as they were still trying to talk to people inside the Quantum, and he thought they were being hijacked.
“By the time I heard gunshots I just opened the door and ran. I thought they were planning to take us to KZN. They were asking so many questions,” he said.
The 29-year-old said he heard people shouting and the gunshots followed soon after.
“I felt like I was going to die. When I saw a guy approaching our car in the side-view mirror with a gun, I became scared that I was going to die. That is why I jumped out of the car and ran,” he said. “I am still shaking. I am still scared of telling my mother what happened.
“When I sleep I think the whole picture will come back. I think if they take me to get professional help, maybe I will be fine.”