Port Elizabeth’s ongoing gang conflict was brought home to terrified onlookers at one of the city’s most popular destinations when gunmen opened fire on a vehicle before escaping on foot on Saturday night.
The unidentified gunmen, who are still on the loose, fled after firing several shots at four alleged gang members who were inside a BMW at the Second Avenue exit from the Boardwalk Casino and Entertainment World complex in Summerstrand.
While no one was injured or killed, distraught witnesses were in tears while others stood shocked at the security boom gates following the shooting.
Yesterday, Sun International group spokesman Michael Farr called the shooting, on the perimeter of the busy complex, an isolated incident.
He said management would work with the police regarding the release of possible CCTV footage.
In May, brazen armed robbers escaped with high-end luxury watches and then hijacked a car after a jewellery heist at Fischer’s Jewellers, also at the Boardwalk.
Police spokeswoman Colonel Priscilla Naidu said Saturday’s suspects were still at large and that the Bay’s gang task team were investigating a case of attempted murder.
She said the incident occurred at about 9pm when four men were leaving the Boardwalk in a silver BMW.
More than seven shots were fired, but only one hit the vehicle.
“The two suspects then ran in the direction of the Lighthouses towards the beach. The four men who were in the vehicle are affiliated to a gang,” Naidu said.
She said no one, including the occupants of the BMW, was injured.
The targets of the shooting are not in police custody.
Herald reporter Yoliswa Sobuwa, 34, happened to be at the Boardwalk with her son, Sinethemba, 11, at the time of the shooting.
“I took him out for a night at the Boardwalk and we were walking back to the car when I realised I had forgotten to buy airtime.
“We went back to a sweetshop to buy airtime and then walked back to the parking area,” Sobuwa said.
When they returned to the car park, they noticed people gathered near the security hut.
“The people we saw were very distraught and two women were crying.
“The other people were all in shock. I asked them what had happened and they said there had been a shooting.”
Sobuwa said that some of the onlookers had been in their own vehicles behind the BMW, and were about to leave the Boardwalk.
“I saw a BMW parked at the NMMU Second Avenue campus, but at that stage I did not know who was responsible for the shooting.
“I got scared, so I left. I did not slow down to see who was in the car.”
She said her son was extremely shaken after hearing about the incident. “We did not even hear the gunshots. All we heard at the time was the normal Boardwalk music.”
Farr confirmed the shooting had taken place at the Boardwalk’s exit.
He said while there was a large contingent of security personnel as well as CCTV cameras at the complex, he did not have knowledge regarding any particular visuals.
“Sometimes there are full visuals but other times they are only partial,” Farr said.
He issued an assurance that “casinos are some of the safest environments you can be in due to the amount of security staff and CCTV cameras”.
In June, The Herald reported that police had established that gangsters were booking into accommodation establishments along the beachfront and, in some cases, even renting houses or flats in other suburbs.
In May, a gangster ran into a top beachfront hotel seeking refuge from a group of rival gangsters.
That same month there were also two gang-related shootings in Newton Park and North End.