Quick response by police led to the arrest of 16 suspects, believed to be security officers, and the seizure of 17 high calibre firearms following a taxi-related shooting incident on Brook Street which left one man dead and two others seriously injured on Friday.

The gross violence marred the symbolism of Freedom Day when a group of heavily armed gunmen travelling in a Toyota Quantum minibus taxi stormed the taxi rank on Brook Street at about 5pm and opened fire. Police spokesperson, Colonel Thembeka Mbhele, said, “They fired multiple gunshots and sped off. Three people were seriously injured and taken to hospital for medical attention and a 56-year-old later passed away. The suspects fled towards Pinetown and a police officer from the Pinetown Task Team spotted the suspects’ vehicle in Chelsea Avenue, New Germany, and gave chase. The suspects opened fire at him and he retaliated. No injuries were sustained and the suspects abandoned their vehicle and ran into a building in Scott Road, Pinetown. The National Intervention Unit were called in. A total of 16 suspects were arrested and a total of 17 firearms were seized which include nine rifles, a shotgun and seven pistols.”

“The suspects will be charged for murder and attempted murder including the shooting of a police officer in Pinetown. They will also be charged for illegal possession of the firearms. They will appear in court soon. The case will be assigned to the Provincial Task Team for further investigation. The firearms will be subjected to ballistic testing to ascertain if they were used in any other pending cases,” added Col Mbhele.

The KwaZulu-Natal Acting Provincial Commissioner, Major General Bheki Langa, commended the swift response by police which led to the arrest of the suspects and the recovery of a number of firearms. “In this province, we will not tolerate any violence, especially relating to the taxi industry as members of community are normally caught during the exchange of gunfire. We work diligently to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book,” he said.

The CEO of the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSiRA), Manabela Chauke, has strongly condemned the demeanour by security officers involved in the shooting episode at Brook Street Taxi Rank in Durban. He commended the South African Police Services for arresting the 16 suspects working for the stipulated security company. He accentuated that the act of lawlessness and criminality by any private security service provider is not going to be allowed. “Our investigation team has begun investigating this incident in order to deal authoritatively with the security company and the security officers involved. We will get to the bottom of this act of lawlessness and bring those involved to book,” added the CEO.