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High circulation of illegal firearms keeps community on the edge

High circulation of illegal firearms keeps community on the edge

Fear and anxiety have gripped a small-knitted community of KwaDukuza after a surge in the use of “illegal” guns in the area.

Concerned residents who spoke to Sunday World on Wednesday said the sound of gunfire has become a norm across the township on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast.

“There is hardly a day without a sound of shots being fired. We suspect that the drug lords and criminal gangs are using the tactics to scare off their competitors,” Philemon Mpanza, a member of the community, said.

“More concerning is that members of the community policing forum [CPF] tell us that they are confiscating illegal guns from school children.”

Tholi Blose, an activist and CPF member, confirmed the proliferation of illegal guns, saying the situation is getting out of control.

“Lately, we have seen an increase of incidents where foreign-owned spaza shops are robbed and illegal guns are used to commit these offenses,” said Blose.

“Pupils are also lured and used as conduit for drugs by criminal gangs. We suspect that this is the main reason they are arming themselves with illegal guns.”

The provincial police top brass conceded that illegal guns are in circulation within various communities.

Speaking shortly after the assassination of two taxi owners in Durban last week, police spokesperson Robert Netshiunda said police have embarked on a campaign to recover the illegal guns.

He said these firearms, which are at the hands of criminals, pose a serious threat to peace and security in the area and across the province.

“These are high-calibre firearms such as R5 rifles and AK47s, which are being used in taxi violence and to commit crime,” said Netshiunda at the time.

The two taxi owners were allegedly seated inside a vehicle when gun-wielding assassins sprayed them with bullets. They belonged to the Durban Long Distance Taxi Association.

The unknown gunmen are still at large and the police are investigating.

The gruesome killing happened in full view of members of the public near the Berea Centre, a mall that is mostly frequented by students from tertiary institutions.

The shopping centre is also surrounded by student residences.

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