They demanded phones and cash before killing 6 people: Alexandra shooting eyewitness bares all


The brother of one of the six people gunned down in Alexandra did not realise his sibling was dead as he assisted those injured in the shooting.

Abel Lekganyane spoke yesterday on the sidelines of an imbizo held by police minister Bheki Cele following shooting sprees in the township on Thursday night. He said he had heard a commotion from inside the house on 6th Avenue and Ruth Street just after 7pm.

And after the gunfire stopped, he helped four people who were injured and drove them to the local clinic. Lekganyane said he did not realise his brother Jack Mathe, who was shot in the head, was lying dead at the scene.

“It was after 7pm when the area experienced load-shedding when a group of men, part of the Alex Ludo team, were practising outside, using their phones for light. I heard four gunshots from inside the house, then I decided to peep through the bathroom window. I heard three dominant voices of men making commands. They asked the group to give them their phones and money,” he said.

He said the group co-operated but a commotion broke out when the robbers asked for phones from people whose phones they had already taken.

“So there was a bit of an argument and then another gunshot went off after I heard one of the robbers say ‘uyadelela wena’ [you are disrespectful].”

A car was parked along the road and he said he heard one of the gunmen asking who the car belonged to as they tried to open it.

“I heard one of them say ‘I also want to shoot one’. I then yelled, threatening to shoot them. I decided to go to the garage and kick the garage door. This spooked them and they took off on foot. I then saw there were injured people. One was shot in the neck, one had an injury on the forehead, and the others were shot on the legs.”

He said he did not see his brother as it was dark and he was not aware that he had been part of the group.

“I found out when I returned that my brother had been shot in the head,” he said.

The incident prompted Cele, national police commissioner Lt-Gen Fannie Masemola and government officials to host an imbizo where residents shared their concerns about the local police.

Lekganyane told the gathering he had no hope in the police as they arrived at the scene 45 minutes after he made a call.

On Friday, Cele revealed that Alexandra police responded to the shooting sprees more than two hours after they happened.

At the meeting, Masemola said the spate of shootings that have been happening throughout the province were not coordinated crimes.

“Up to so far in terms of our investigations we have not found any relations between all these cases. They are more individual incidents and we are on track in most cases to getting the suspects. We ask that members of the communities come forward with information.”

Since Sunday, at least 41 people have been killed in mass shootings where three or more people were killed.

In a mass shooting at Mdlalose ’ s Tavern in Nomzamo, Orlando East in Soweto, a week ago, 16 people were killed, while others are still recovering in hospital.

Despite Cele deploying the Amabherete (tactical response team) and other resources to the area, no arrests have been made.

On Friday, seven farmworkers were killed in Kestell, Free State. Two men have been arrested.

Five people were gunned down in separate incidents in Thembelihle, Lenasia, south of Johannesburg, on Saturday night.

Gauteng police spokesperson Lt-Col Mavela Masondo said preliminary investigations have revealed that in the first incident, a group of men were playing dice at a street corner at about 7.30pm when they were attacked by unknown assailants.

“Four people were certified dead on the scene, while two people were taken to the nearest medical care centre after sustaining gunshot wounds. In another separate incident, also at Thembelihle, a 36year-old man who appeared to have been robbed of his belongings, including a cellphone and bicycle, was found shot dead. The motive for the shooting cannot be confirmed at this stage. Five cases of murder and two of attempted murder have been opened for investigation,” he said.

Masondo said a manhunt for the suspects has been launched.

Institute for Security Studies founder and analyst Jakkie Cilliers said the problem was that many of the basics in the police service and the criminal justice system, in general, were not being prioritised.

“Money is not the problem. We are sitting with a police budget that’s increased by 60% and most of that money goes towards VIP protection for ministers and MPs. It’s really about effective and basic management of the police. The disbandment of specialist units that focused on organised crime was a blunder and that’s why we are where we are now. Specialised intelligence units that would detect such crimes before they happen and intercept are what we need.

“The amount of shootings that we are seeing now wouldn’t have escalated to what they are if government prioritised and funded such units, on top of which the quality of investigators and detectives also needs to be prioritised.”

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