Gang-related battles in Westbury have claimed another two lives in the volatile Johannesburg suburb this week.
The surge in gang-related violence across South Africa recently prompted Police Minister Bheki Cele to roll out the Anti-Gang Unit countrywide.
Cele announced this week that the AGU had been elevated to a national level, because “gangsterism is spreading across” the country.
He made this announcement in Parliament during the State of the Nation debate this week, a day after a community activist had raised concerns that the unit had been operating without a proper budget.
In Westbury, on Thursday night a man was shot and killed during what residents described as a gang war between three rival groupings – the Varados, Fast Guns, and newly established Disciples gang.
Police spokesperson Captain Mavela Masondo said at about 19:30, the victim was at Dowling Street in Westbury when he was approached by a gunman who fired a shot at him.
“The victim was taken to hospital where he was certified dead on arrival. The motive for the killing is unknown at this stage and police have opened a case of murder for investigation,” he said.
No arrests have been made in this case.
Then on Friday evening, a 15-year-old was allegedly shot dead by a 16-year-old who was playing with a loaded firearm at a block of flats in Claremont, Westbury.
The teenage suspect is in police custody.
Masondo said the deceased and his friends were listening to music on the stairs of their home when the suspect arrived with a firearm.
‘He cocked the weapon again’
“The suspect then asked them ‘who is talking a lot’ among them. He took out a firearm and cocked it. He then released the magazine and informed the deceased and witnesses that it was a real firearm. He cocked the weapon again.
“The suspect pointed the gun to the ground and pulled the trigger. A bullet went off, hitting the ground, ricocheted and struck the deceased on his back and exited through his shoulder,” said Masondo.
Police found the weapon in the suspect’s possession.
“The suspect claimed the weapon was not his and it belonged to someone else in the area. Police proceeded to the person whom the gun allegedly belonged to. When police started questioning the alleged owner of the firearm, he claimed that it was his firearm. Further investigations revealed that the firearm was reportedly stolen and he was arrested for possession of an unlicensed firearm,” said Masondo.
The teenage suspect is expected to appear in court on charges of murder and possession of an unlicensed firearm, while the other suspect linked to the gun is expected in court on charges of illegal possession of an unlicensed firearm.
Masondo said police are investigating if the two murders are gang-related.
While News24 was in the area on Saturday, three armed men exchanged fire at a block of flats in Newclare, Westbury.
Community leader Shaheim Ismail said the two armed men who are known allegedly chased after another armed men seeking revenge for the death of the man who was killed on Thursday night along Dowling Street.
The deceased was believed to be a member of the Varados gang.
Residents, especially relatives of the deceased, refused to speak to News24 fearing for their lives.
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