How Durban hostage drama unfolded

How Durban hostage drama unfolded

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Durban – A MAN was taken in for questioning by police after he allegedly held hostage staff at the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) offices in Durban on Thursday afternoon.

The man allegedly held two people hostage at the Salmon Grove Chambers building on Anton Lembede Street in the Durban city centre. He had gone to the 12th floor of the building where the GEPF offices were situated demanding his pension fund money.

Initial reports circulating were that the man had explosive devices strapped around his waist. Police spokesperson Thembeka Mbele could not confirm if the man had been carrying explosives and a firearm. Mbele said last night that he was taken for questioning by detectives.

Among the police that were called in to diffuse a hostage situation was members of the police’s elite Special Task Force. I Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

Police surrounded the building for two hours and were unsure if he had a bomb or not. The man was whisked away without anybody knowing. The bomb threat forced police to clear out street traders, pedestrians and asked for shops in the vicinity to close. Police at the scene did not have much information as to what was going on upstairs.

The Durban CBD came to a standstill on Thursday, afternoon when an armed man apparently held staff hostage at the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) offices on Anton Lembede Street. I Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

A woman who works on the 10th floor of the building said load shedding began at 2pm. She said most of the businesses closed and office workers left the building. She said the security in the building was tight and wondered how the man had entered without being detected.

A police officer at the scene where an armed man held staff hostage at the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) offices on Anton Lembede Street. I Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

Emer-G-Med spokesperson Kyle van Reenen commended the police negotiators for acting swiftly. He said specialised police units including the Special Task Force and bomb units were also called out to the scene.

Police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka said a retired member of a security force came into the GEPF offices and demanded payment of his pension.

“He posed a threat to a pension manager. The firearm was visible on him but was not drawn out.Only verbal threats were made while the firearm was visible on his body.The situation was diffused by Task force and hostage negotiators. No shooting took place and on one was injured.”



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