Municipal workers under siege
Municipal workers are under siege – and the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality is pleading with residents to back off and stop attacking them as they try to fix electrical faults and water leaks.
This comes as a Helenvale man was shot dead on Saturday after he allegedly tried to stab a municipal security officer guarding an electrician who was fixing a fault.
Anneclato Barendse, 29, died in the 10.30am shooting.
The situation turned violent shortly afterwards, with residents pelting the municipal security officials with stones.
Safety and security executive director advocate Keith Meyer said a security detail had been assigned to escort the workers on Saturday after a series of attacks on employees.
“There have been several incidents where staff have been attacked or robbed while attending to callouts,” he said.
“Sometimes, attackers use firearms or knives and threaten to kill the workers.”
Meyer said the attacks were mainly on staff attending to water or electricity problems.
“When there is a fault, we send a team to fix it. But then they are attacked,” he said.
“In this case, there were reports of an underground fault.
“The workers were digging up the line to find the fault so that electricity could be restored.
“It appears the attacker took several lunges at the [municipal security] official and ignored all instructions to stop.”
Asked if security officers were sent on all jobs, Meyer said there were identified hotspot areas in the Bay.
These included Kwazakhele, New Brighton and various parts of the northern areas.
“We are appealing to residents to not attack municipal staff,” Meyer said.
“They are there to fix issues in the community.”
But Helenvale residents have called for the security guards to be arrested – claiming that Barendse did not try to stab or attack anyone.
About 100 residents gathered on Sunday at the site where Barendse was killed to pray and erect a wooden cross.
Police spokesperson Colonel Priscilla Naidu said the electrician was attending to a fault in Uranus Street when the attack occurred.
“On their arrival, the deceased [Barendse] approached one of the security officers and ordered him to move his vehicle which he claimed was in front of his house.
“The official obliged and as he was moving the vehicle, Barendse approached the other security officer who was with the electrician.
“He started to harass them and after an argument, he left.
“A short while later, Barendse returned, allegedly with a knife, and tried to stab one security official.
“The official pointed his firearm and requested that he step back.
“However, Barendse refused and lunged for the officer, who fired a shot.”
Barendse was shot in the chest and died at the scene.
Naidu said the electrician and the security officers retreated after the shooting as the residents became hostile.
Asked if a knife was found on the scene, Naidu said no.
Percival Engelbrecht, 30, said the community wanted justice for Barendse’s killing.
“I have known him my entire life. He was a good person and this was totally uncalled for,” Engelbrecht said.
“We are all very angry about this. He was not a gangster, he was a good person and did not deserve to get killed like this.
“I was standing nearby [about 20m away around the corner] when I heard the gunshot. I ran there and saw him lying on the ground.
“The security guard walked past me with his gun in his hand and said that [Barendse] was only shot in the leg.
“He then carried on walking. They got into their vehicle and drove off.
“We tried to stop them from leaving but he [allegedly] pointed a gun out the window and fired more shots.”
Asked about the knife, Engelbrecht said: “They said he [Barendse] had a knife, but he did not. There was no knife.
“I was the first one to arrive and there was no knife.”
Barendse’s visibly upset mother, Daphne Mentoor, 54, said:
“How can someone do this to him? It was unnecessary – how can you just turn around and shoot someone dead?”
Barendse’s grandfather, Jacobus, 72, said he had left behind a four-year-old daughter.
Ward councillor Pieter Hermaans said security escorts were standard when workers went into certain areas.
“The bottom line is that officials do not want to come into [Helenvale] without security, not only because of the gangs, but also because they do not want to be robbed.”
Police are investigating a case of murder and the municipality is also conducting an internal investigation.