Suspected gang row leaves man dead, teenage girl fighting for life
A beachfront brawl turned deadly in Port Elizabeth yesterday morning when shots were fired during the fracas, leaving one man dead in hospital and a teenager fighting for her life.
Warring gangs were behind the violence, which happened on an unusually busy night in a popular Humewood party strip.
A 16-year-old girl, whose name is being withheld by police, was shot in the head while standing between the cars on a grassy patch at the corner of La Roche Drive and Beach Road.
Mervin Draghoender, 27, who was shot in the chest and arm, died in hospital.
Another man was attacked with a beer bottle and discharged after treatment.
Police spokeswoman Colonel Priscilla Naidu said the incident happened just after 2.30am yesterday when an argument broke out between two groups of suspected gangsters.
“[A] group of males were parked in front of McDonald’s in Beach Road, Humewood, and were standing in front of their vehicle and drinking.”
Two other men walked past, Naidu said, and made a remark to the group. They left and returned with about 10 other men. An argument broke out.
Naidu said matters escalated and before long the two groups started fighting. Shots were fired, wounding Draghoender and the 16-year-old.
“One female, an innocent bystander aged 16, was shot in the head,” Naidu said.
An Algoa Security response officer, who was first on the scene and asked for his name to be withheld, said he was contacted by a colleague who lived in the area and had heard the gunshots.
He claimed the fight initially started between two gangsters inside one of the nearby establishments and then spilled out on to the street after bouncers removed the troublemakers.
It had been a busy night, more so than usual, with lots of school pupils out celebrating.
“One guy was hit over the head with a beer bottle from behind. One group went to their car, while the other guys jumped into their car and drove to the other guys and started shooting at them,” he said.
When the security officer arrived at the scene, he found the teenager lying on the grass between cars which had their windows smashed.
“The car [with the alleged shooters in it] sped off in the direction of the freeway. The girl who got shot was put into a car and rushed to hospital by her friends. The other guy who was shot was also taken to hospital by his friends.”
Draghoender died at about midday. The girl was in a serious condition, Naidu said.
The hospital refused to release any patient information.
Shortly after Draghoender’s death was confirmed by police, Naidu said two suspects, aged 23 and 30, were arrested in Bethelsdorp and charged with two counts of attempted murder and one of murder.
According to Naidu, Draghoender was a member of the G-Stars gang while the suspects belong to the Vampires gang.
The teen’s parents declined to talk when visited at their home.
Metro political head of safety and security John Best said he was shocked and appalled by the events.
“It is a tragic incident and we condemn it and all other acts of violence within the city.”
Best said the metro was working very hard to ensure the safety of residents and visitors.
“We are working very hard on current technology to assist us in the fight against crime, in all areas across the metro. This includes ensuring all CCTV cameras are working and recording, installation of recognition cameras, and the ‘shot spotter’ technology which is on the verge of being implemented.”
Safety plans include increased visibility of traffic and police officials across the metro and discussions with police on how to curb gang violence.
“The fact that gang violence has spilled over into other areas is definitely a concern . . . [it is] important for us to continue working with the SAPS for an integrated approach – our plans must complement each other,” Best said.
The suspects will appear in court tomorrow.
Acting Mount Road Cluster commander Brigadier Keith Meyer commended members of the provincial gang unit.
“[We] will not allow these criminals to cause mayhem in our metro and we will hunt them down and ensure they face the full brunt of the law.
“We are committed in ensuring the people of Port Elizabeth live in safer communities where no fear and violence prevail.”