KZN Hostage drama ends peacefully

A HUMAN drama unfolded at a block of flats in Pinetown near Durban yesterday when a 26-year-old woman held her nine-year-old daughter hostage.

Neighbours in Crompton Street allegedly heard a noise and the sound of gunfire coming from one of the flats and alerted the police.

Neighbours and the community were yesterday still puzzled about what could have prompted the mother to want to shoot her child.

Police spokesperson Vincent Mdunge said that they could not immediately establish the motive.

Members of the task force and hostage negotiators had to be deployed to the scene when the woman refused to listen to anything the police had to say.

"The woman was very angry and threatened to shoot anyone who tried to come close," Mdunge said.

He said while the hostage negotiator tried to calm her down the woman started making demands. She wanted to speak to an unarmed police officer.

"We had to take the risk and send an unarmed police officer in to try and convince her to give up her gun and let the child go," Mdunge said.

"She finally gave in after about 30 minutes of begging by the unarmed officer and a hostage negotiator."

She was arrested and taken to the Pinetown police station, where she was interrogated while the child was being counselled and released into the custody of relatives.

"The woman is expected to appear in court soon on charges of kidnapping and possession of an unlicensed firearm," Mdunge said.

The hostage negotiator, whose name is known to Sowetan, said he was once again humbled by having been able to save the life of the little girl.

"The woman threatened to shoot herself. She had locked herself inside the flat with the little girl," said the hostage negotiator.

"In the state she was in she could have shot and killed both the child and herself. As I continued speaking to her, she finally gave in."

He said that at the end of all the drama the child was very traumatised.

The child was also worried about what was going to happen to her mother since she saw her being loaded into a police van.

"The child is with her grandparents. Hopefully, with enough trauma counselling, she will recover from this ordeal," he said.

A neighbour, who wished to remain anonymous, said she had just finished bathing when the drama started.

"I was getting ready for church when I heard the sound of gunfire, a child crying and a woman screaming at the top of her voice," the neighbour said.

"When I went to investigate I heard that the noise came from the flat below.

"Shortly after that the police arrived. From what I heard I am not sure whether the woman wanted to shoot herself and the child or just the child. I ended up not going to church.

"I wanted to witness the hostage drama unfold."