One day after police arrested a “wanted hitman” for a spate of murders at the notorious Glebelands hostel in Umlazi, south of Durban, on Friday, three teenagers were shot and wounded in their room by an unknown gunman.
Police spokesperson Col Thembeka Mbele said charges of attempted murder are being investigated.
“It is alleged that on February 13 at 10.20am, three victims aged between 14 and 18 were in their room at Glebelands hostel when they were shot by [an] unknown suspect.
“They sustained arm injuries and were taken to hospital. The motive for the attack is unknown.”
On Sunday, Mbele said police officers had “successfully arrested wanted hitman Thobani Kwazikwakhe Mahobo, 35, also known as Laqhasha”.
He appeared at the Umlazi magistrate’s court on two counts of murder and was remanded in police custody until February 22.
Mbele said it was alleged that in November last year Anele Chutshane and Phumlani Ntozakhe, both 27, were shot dead by Mahobo at the hostel.
Violence has plagued the hostel for years, mainly between 2014 and 2016, when a group of men — believed to be hitmen — ordered residents to pay them R50, allegedly as protection money.
In 2017, former Durban Central detective Bhekukwazi Mdweshu and his seven co-accused – collectively known as the “Glebelands 8" – were arrested and put on trial at the Pietermaritzburg high court on charges which include racketeering and murder.
Human rights activist Vanessa Burger told TimesLIVE: “The provincial organised crime unit detectives have been doing excellent work at Glebelands, which has led to an 80% reduction in murder at the hostel since December 2017.”
However, Burger said attacks have resumed since September last year, the most recent being on Saturday.
“It seems there are now three splinter groups that were previously connected to the Glebelands 8 – the cop and his seven accomplices currently on trial for multiple murders – who are fighting to control the extortion rackets at Glebelands where residents are forced to pay money to these thugs or be evicted or killed,” she said.
“We urgently need static police deployments at the hotspots, increased patrols and specific operations to remove unlicensed firearms, and dedicated, effective intelligence work to pre-empt attacks.
“The municipality needs to come to the party to fix street lights, which haven’t been working for weeks, and put an end to the conditions that render the hostels vulnerable to these criminal enterprises – or Glebelands will experience endless cycles of death.”