Suspected taxi-war shooting leaves two injured

A man and a woman travelling in a white BMW were critically injured outside Hillary Primary School in Durban on Tuesday morning after gunmen opened fire on their vehicle, which had stopped near the school. The BMW was riddled with 24 bullet holes.

Donovan Pillay (26) was seated in the car with Leanne Armugam—the wife of his cousin, local taxi boss Duncan Armugam—whom he had been transporting to work at the time. Pillay sustained five gunshot wounds and Armugam was reportedly shot in the arm.

Netcare 911 spokesperson Chris Botha said the two were critically injured.
Pillay was airlifted from the school grounds to Albert Luthuli Hospital by the Red Cross Air Mercy Service helicopter and Armugam was taken to Chatsmed Garden hospital. A KwaZulu-Natal emergency medical rescue official confirmed that Pillay was undergoing an emergency operation.

Police at the scene said R5 rifles and 9mm pistols were used in the shooting. An officer said there were almost 50 shell casings lying on the tar.

Police spokesperson Superintendent Daniela Veldhuizen said the BMW had stopped at the corner of Stella Road and Fourth Street when it was approached by two cars. “One car came from behind and one was coming from Stella Road. They fired multiple shots at the car,” she said.

A local resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the woman and her family had moved into a house on Fourth Street almost four months previously.

Police spokesperson Muzi Mngomezulu said: “We can confirm that the woman injured in the shooting at Hillary this morning was Leanne Armugam, the wife of Duncan Armugam. At present, there are no arrests and we do not have details of the suspects—so we cannot link the suspects in this shooting to the suspects in the shooting in 2005, where her son was killed.”

In October 2005, Leanne Armugam was grazed on the forehead by a bullet fired by a gunman who drove past their home in the Westcliff suburb of Durban’s Chatsworth area, where they lived at the time.

In that shooting, which made front-page news, her five-year-old son Dredin-Lee, who was playing in the garden, was killed along with Deon Govender (38), who had simply called on Duncan Armugam in a bid to sell him amplifiers for his taxis.

A three-year-old relative of the Armugams, Shannon Nunnun, was also wounded in the 2005 shooting.

At the time, the attack was linked to an ongoing taxi war in Chatsworth between rival gangs that had resulted in several deaths. However, Mngomezulu said on Tuesday that police could not link the two cases until investigations were complete.

“We request that residents with information contact police as soon as possible,” he said.

Sam Pillay, chairperson of the Chatsworth Anti-Drug Forum, said he was aware of the Hillary shooting. He said there had been at least 17 drive-by shootings in the Chatsworth area over the past two-and-a-half years.

“We believe most of them were drug and gang related,” said Pillay. “It is unfortunate that more people have been injured in this war. It is totally unacceptable.”—Sapa

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