Residents laud police for stopping gang in its tracks

Police Minister Bheki Cele visited the scene at Desai settlement in Mariannhill where police killed nine wanted suspects in a gunfight. | DOCTOR NGCOBO Independent Newspapers

Police Minister Bheki Cele visited the scene at Desai settlement in Mariannhill where police killed nine wanted suspects in a gunfight. | DOCTOR NGCOBO Independent Newspapers

Published Apr 5, 2024


Durban — A mother whose daughter was allegedly raped by one of the nine suspects killed in a gunfight with police in Mariannhill, Durban, has lauded police for taking action against crime in the community.

The nine wanted suspects were killed on Wednesday.

Police said a group of 11 suspects had been terrorising residents of Mariannhill and the surrounding areas.

Police spokesperson Colonel Robert Netshiunda said the suspects were also sought in connection with a case of rape where they allegedly raped a girl and made her mother watch the ordeal during a house robbery. They had also been on the police's radar for serious and violent crimes in the area.

The 24-year-old victim's mother, who cannot be named, told the Daily News that residents lived a fearful life in the area called Desai.

She said that just after midnight her kitchen door was kicked in and six men entered the two-bedroom house and took most of her possessions including clothes.

“They instructed me to go inside my room, beating me in the process while another man started raping my daughter in the other room. I could hear my daughter in the other room crying out for help but I could do nothing to help.”

“My daughter is currently attending therapy group sessions to help her process this, getting to sit down and listen to other women narrate their stories.”

The mother said her daughter had to leave the Mariannhill area.

She added that the crime syndicate has been consistent with its reign of terror since 2004. She said they were young individuals and carried firearms which they used to threaten and extort people in the community.

The syndicate also demanded she pay them on a monthly basis because she had an income from renting out rooms, she said.

“If the police department continues taking out criminals there will be fewer criminals in the community. The police rescued us. The winter month is dangerous because darkness aids these criminals.

“It feels like justice has been served, the pain my family felt is unmatched. We will never forget about this horrific incident. This is my home and I have no other place to live. As residents, one has to keep quiet because if you talk you get killed.

“Due to high crime in the area, my cottages are empty. No one wants to stay in the area,” she said.

KZN Social Development spokesperson Mhlaba Memela said, “We are deeply disturbed to hear about the appalling incident of child rape. Such heinous acts inflict immeasurable harm on the victim and their loved ones, leaving scars that may never fully heal. Let me be unequivocal: there is no justification, excuse, or explanation for such despicable behaviour.

“It is a vile violation of basic human rights and dignity. We must stand united in condemning such atrocities and ensuring that justice is served swiftly and decisively. Every child deserves to grow up in a safe and nurturing environment, free from the threat of violence or exploitation.”

Memela added that no one should ever have to endure such pain and suffering, and hoped that the mother and the child would find the strength and support needed to heal and rebuild their lives.

“We also want to encourage the mother of the victim to ensure she makes contact with the Social Development Service office so social workers can provide them with support.”

Police Minister Bheki Cele, on Thursday, hosted a street Imbizo at Desai in Mariannhill, following the wanted suspects’ shootout with police. Residents spoke of how they yearned for peace after living at the mercy of criminals for years.

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