IN an ironic twist to the launch of Nelson Mandela Bay’s Safer Festive Season campaign yesterday, gang violence erupted in Port Elizabeth’s northern areas.
The Gelvandale shooting, which left one person dead and another wounded, brings this week’s gang-related death toll to five.
The latest shooting happened while Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Danny Jordaan, Eastern Cape safety and liaison MEC Weziwe Tikana and police commissioner General Cynthia Celiwe Binta announced the Operation Fiela/Reclaim Safer Festive Season campaign.
Speaking at the Port Elizabeth City Hall, Tikana said: “I request an immediate roll-out for the arrest of criminals. Close down all illegal taverns and the gangsters must be put behind bars. We must deal with criminals decisively as we approach the festive season.”
She also announced that a task team would be established to intervene in the gang violence.
A motorcade linked to the launch and consisting of several police and traffic vehicles drove through various areas such as Gelvandale, Bloemendal and New Brighton only an hour before the shooting.
The 10am shooting took place in a Spar car park in Beetlestone Road, opposite the Papenkuil Primary School.
A bullet-riddled Toyota Corolla stood in the car park.
Curt de la Harte, 30, was shot at close range in the head. He was shot in the passenger seat of the car while, according to police on the scene, holding an open bottle of beer.
A survivor, 23, who was sitting on the driver’s side and is not being named for his safety, was shot in the abdomen and rushed to hospital shortly after the shooting.
Police spokesman Warrant Officer Alwin Labans said: “The two suspects approached the car on foot while it was parked in the car park. Several shots were fired at the vehicle while it was parked.”
Labans said the suspects had fled on foot.
Spar Eastern Cape operations manager Denzil Naidoo said he had advised staff to lock the shop after the shooting.
“It was a security risk, so we temporarily shut the doors. The ongoing gang violence is a great concern for us and all businesses in the area,” he said.
A Papenkuil Primary School teacher, who declined to be named, said the shooting raised serious security concerns.
“We were fortunately at a school prize-giving and no teacher or pupil was there.
“We come to work every day with a concern about our safety and that of our pupils.”
This story appeared in Weekend Post on Saturday, 21 November, 2015 e-Edition