Facebook threats in gang war

BRAZEN HIT: The crime scene where Donovan ‘Stall’ Berry was shot in Bethelsdorp. Picture: EUGENE COETZEE
BRAZEN HIT: The crime scene where Donovan ‘Stall’ Berry was shot in Bethelsdorp. Picture: EUGENE COETZEE

Girlfriend not worried about being targeted

DESPITE the brutal murder of her boyfriend who was shot 31 times last week, the girlfriend of a suspected Port Elizabeth gang leader says she does not fear for her life after death threats against her were posted on a disturbing Facebook page.

Donovan “Stall” Berry, 47, died in a hail of bullets on Tuesday with residents and a ward councillor now fearing a gang war due to retaliation killings.

His murder follows six months of death threats on a Facebook page called “Stall and Crew ons watch julle my bru”.

The page, which labels Berry as Port Elizabeth’s biggest murderer, has been updated regularly with chilling posts vowing revenge on him and his family.

Berry was killed in Barberry Street, Bethelsdorp, on Tuesday. A picture of his bloodied body was posted on the page nine hours after his death.

A second picture, also posted that night, shows his naked body on a mortuary table.

Then, days later, a picture was posted showing the mutilated body of a man with the caption claiming this was the body of Berry’s associate.

The last post on Saturday night is a picture of Berry’s girlfriend at the Boardwalk with the caption, “This bitch must fall”.

The 23-year-old girlfriend, who was willing to be identified but her name has been withheld for her own safety, dismissed the threats on her life.

“I have not seen the page and I don’t want to see it. I am not too concerned about the death threats. But if this escalates, then I will start worrying,” the woman, who has a 10-month-old child with Berry, said.

She denied her boyfriend was a gangster, saying he was a much-loved member of the Salt Lake community. “He was not a gangster, he was a businessman who cared deeply for his family and the community,” she said.

“Myself and many other people in this area are still trying to cope with his death. He was and still is being misrepresented as a gangster.”

Police insiders said last week Berry had been “well known”, having allegedly been involved with the distribution of drugs to gangs and running his own drug dens.

According to the police, he was also a senior leader of the Dustlife gang.

“We are all still trying to cope with his death and make all the necessary funeral arrangements,” the girlfriend said.

“The problem at the moment is that the real gangsters are now doing crime claiming to be working for Stall, and using his name to solve their own personal vendettas. And that is what could lead to a gang war.”

She believes the threats on her own life are because people assume her boyfriend’s “assets” would be left for her.

“This is not the case. He had a will and it will be dealt with after the funeral.”

Northern areas Ward 13 councillor Nico du Plessis said: “Berry tried to take over the drug trade in PE and that’s why he was killed.

“And now it is certain there will be retaliation because three or four people are all vying for his high-ranking drug post. It will be a war zone. That is the way it works in the northern areas.

“Stall’s people will shoot and in turn be shot. There will be retaliation, as the number of new targets will just keep growing.”

Despite the graphic pictures and threats on the Facebook page, police spokeswoman Colonel Priscilla Naidu said it would not play a “big role” in the murder investigation.

“We have received calls from the public regarding this Facebook page; however, none of it is verified. It is all speculation. Our investigation will be guided by our own intelligence,” she said.

Regarding the picture of the mutilated body, Naidu said: “It will not form part of the investigation as there have been no other murders after Berry’s reported to be linked to his death.

“We can’t speculate … how his murder will affect future crime in the area, but we are preparing in terms of increasing patrols, and Operation Lockdown is still in place.”

Naidu said the investigation was ongoing and that there had been no arrests.

Operation Lockdown was launched by Police Minister Nathi Nhleko and acting national police commissioner Lieutenant-General Khomotso Phahlane in March.

It is a police campaign to clamp down on gangsterism and crime in the northern areas.

It came about after Nhleko backtracked on a promised joint army and police intervention to curb the ongoing violence in the gang-plagued area.

Since the start of the year at least 17 murders have been reported in northern areas.

Salt Lake residents fear Berry’s death will lead to an increase of violent gang activity.

A resident, who lives on Barends Street near Berry’s home, said the gangsters would see his death as an opportunity.

“Stall won’t just disappear – his death is sure to cause some type of retaliation,” the resident, who declined to be named, said.

“We have all heard stories of how he operates and if they are true, there will be people trying to take his position as a druglord.”

When The Herald arrived at the home of Berry’s parents yesterday, two men approached the vehicle saying the family were not willing to speak to the media.

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