A self-confessed gangster and nephew of alleged gang boss Wendell Petersen described yesterday how six masked men armed with guns and swords brutally assaulted alleged Dustlife members who were staying at the gang’s safe house.
The house was also torched in the incident.
The man, 19, who would not give his name, said he had watched the drama unfold on Skype as he chatted to a friend who was in the house at the time.
He has also accused the People Against Drugs and Violence (Padav) – thought to have disbanded in Port Elizabeth many years ago – of being behind the attack, although police do not believe the group is still active in the city.
The man said the house belonged to his uncle and was used as a safe house as “we have to move around so that our families won’t get hurt”.
According to police, six masked men armed with guns and swords broke through a security gate of the double-storey house in Van Duuren Street, Gelvandale, at about 12.30am yesterday and dragged the six occupants downstairs, shooting one man in the arm and beating the others.
One man, 25, whom neither police nor Petersen’s nephew would name, was taken to hospital.
The other victims, aged between 25 and 28, had not returned to the property yesterday.
Describing what he saw via the Skype call with his friend, who was downstairs in the house, the man said: “A group of people with their faces covered with scarves and wearing bulletproof vests, all dressed in black, stormed into the bottom part of the house carrying pump-action guns.”
He claimed the weapons were R4 rifles and shotguns.
A petrol bomb was allegedly thrown on to the roof of the house from the back of the dwelling before the armed group broke down a security gate and barged in. The man said the six attackers ransacked the house and assaulted the occupants before fleeing in a bakkie.
He believed members of Padav were behind the attack.
Padav was active in Port Elizabeth in the 1990s and was, on a number of occasions, accused of violently attacking alleged gangsters.
“They are unleashing this on us now. This doesn’t sit well with us – it upsets me,” the man said.
“Things are getting very serious now, this must stop.”
He said he was not afraid to talk out about what was happening as he hoped it would create awareness of growing gang violence in the area.
“Police can come here and I will give a statement. I am not scared to tell them what is going on,” he said.
A resident in the area, who did not want to be identified as he feared for his safety, said he had heard loud banging sounds but was too afraid to investigate. “This area is not safe, I fear for my life,” he said.
Other residents also said they did not want to speak as they were afraid.
However, one woman who lives nearby said the house was known as a gangster hangout.
“This place is very dangerous, people are getting killed all the time,” she said.
Police spokeswoman Colonel Priscilla Naidu confirmed the incident, but said police did not believe Padav was active in Port Elizabeth.
“These are allegations which need to be investigated,” she said.
Naidu said police were investigating cases of arson and attempted murder after the attack.
Meanwhile, Petersen, 30, and five other suspected gangsters who were arrested in September on charges of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition, among other things, will appear in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court on December 14.