No Xenophobia in Port Elizabeth, Just opportunists

Most of Port Elizabeth no doubt was shocked to hear the news of the Xenophobic attacks that occurred on Saturday. Well I would like to assure those living in PE that nothing of the sort happened. Here is the story that you didn’t read in the news paper.

I received the call at about 10am Saturday morning, it seemed that my colleagues who were called first didn’t want to get out of bed or answer their cellphones. A contact in the SAPS gave me the call and told me get my ass down to Zwide, as there were looters and rioters everywhere. My self and the girl friend quickly threw on something and headed out to the scene of all the action.

According to our source, the whole thing started about 7am that same day. When a local chap got into an argument with Somalian shop owner. The shop owner acted as any rational person does, drawing a 9mm pistol and shooting him between the eyes. He then went back inside his shop, gathered some personal belongings and food. He then walked up to the body of the local chap and shot him twice again. He fled the scene. Now police have been saying that something like this is all it would take for a joburg 2 happening in Port Elizabeth. Over the next couple of hours news spread around zwide of what the shop owner had down and crowds of at first angry people gathered in front of the shop to burn the building down.

Police were already on the scene and only had to call for backup from the ever increasing crowd. As the day wore on the criminal element came to the party. People were racing from one Somali shop to the next, trying to steal what ever they could. 12 people were arrested for looting.

As the first shops were being looted police swarmed into Zwide, at least 150 police officers from all the districts came to the party, a special mention to all the reservists that also came, with out their help I am sure that things would have got out of hand. All armed with shot guns loaded with rubber bullets they camped out side Somali shops protecting them from opportunists.

As one shop was starting to be looted some community members kept the police informed about what was going on. The police radio would crackle with the location of the latest shop being looted, police would pile into their cars and high tail it to where the action was. With us trailing behind them, through the mud and rocky roads of the location. Nothing like driving at high speeds, on mud, with people all around you and gun shots going off in the background.

We arrived at a shop we had been to a couple of hours before. A looter ran from the shop, a police officer chased after him. The officer was able to hit him twice with rubber bullets. The pics below should tell the story. On a personal note, I shot this picture while driving and putting the camera outside the window and letting the shutter fly.

Police also arrested a couple of looters while we were around. A couple that thought it would be great idea to take some maize and a very thin woman.

The police had gotten a call from community members that a woman had stolen some rice, the arrived in force to the scene. Community members pointed out the woman who fled into someones shack. As she was being arrested a man holding a baby chased after the police and handed over what I assume is the womans child. Just take a look at the womans and babies face, it will tell you everything you need to know.

Police guarded Somali owned shops for hours, as the rain came in the crowds became less and less, a help hopefuls hang around in the pouring rain hoping to be the first into the shop when police left the scene.

While the Somali shops were under police guard the owners and families that ran the shops backed up everything that they could into bakkies and fled to a safe house in Durban road, Korstan. Crowds of locals were shouting get out foreigner as they sped under police escort to the safe house.

By about 5pm the action had died down and most of the people were back inside their homes. The PE police ready did a great job with what could have gotten out of hand quickly.


Danger all night long with a crew from the flying squad

THE car‘s tyres screamed as the driver spun in a 180-degree arc. We were responding to a call that there had just been an armed robbery. Two men had held up a woman at gunpoint and fled with her month‘s wages. I‘m spending time with the Nelson Mandela Bay flying squad in the townships of the city, and with sirens screaming, we head full tilt towards where the two robbers were last seen. We‘re close now, the lights go off and the siren dies away. We don‘t want to advertise our presence.
As we slowly drive down dusty dirt roads, the two police officers look down the alleyways that feed this gravel thoroughfare.
“I think we‘ve got something here,” the officer says over the two-way radio.
We edge our way down the alleyway. The two men haven‘t seen us yet. There is the metallic click of guns being loaded. The two walk on, unaware of our presence.
Then one of them sees us creeping up on them. How you creep in a one- ton car on a dirt road amazes me.
All the same, our creeping has been noticed. The two split up and start running between the shacks. The officer slams the car into gear and races after the closest one. Our car brakes suddenly to prevent us from running the man down.
The two police officers, Colin and Juba, jump from the car, guns at the ready. “Wait here!” one screams at me. Since there are people running around with guns, I stay in the car.
Sitting alone in a marked flying squad car, I glance nervously around. A man behind me stops and looks at the car. It‘s one of the men that we are chasing. “Over here, one of them is over here,” I scream while running towards the police officers. They run past me, sweat pouring from their faces.
We have no time to waste. Another call has come in. A silver Opel Rekord has been hijacked in Central.
From what I‘ve been told it‘s been a slow night. As the radio dies down and the workload suddenly disappears, the two officers I am accompanying cruise the dark streets and alleys looking for cars reported stolen.
We have a list of the 24 cars reported stolen in two days. Every car we pass, we check the number plates.
White Toyota Corolla, Citi Golf, blue Isuzu bakkie . . . that shape, model and colour is on the list. The number plate matches. We‘re in business.
We pull over and notice two men dressed to the nines. Under their arms, two drunk young girls stumble towards the stolen bakkie with them.
Colin jumps from the police car, cocks his R5 rifle and raises it towards the people as they start the car. “Step out of the car and put your hands above your head,” he yells at the men. Juba climbs out of the car, raising his 9mm pistol. “Get out of the car. Ladies, stay where you are,” he shouts.
After the arrests, I amble about, taking photos, talking to witnesses.
It seemed Juba had only called in backup five minutes ago, but out of nowhere, a swarm of policemen, armed with flak jackets, guns, mace and sjamboks climb out of their cars.
We‘re back on the street. Five minutes after Colin and Juba have finished their paperwork, another call comes through. A car has been stolen.
For the second time tonight, the car spins in a 180° arc and we make a beeline for the scene of the crime.
The rest of the night is a blur of screeching tyres and high speed.