Barber’s murder: CBD businesses under siege

Well-known Pietermaritzburg barber Poobie Chetty was brutally killed last week

Downtown Pietermaritzburg business owners are reeling in shock following the senseless murder of well-known barber Poobie Chetty.

Chetty, 60, of Daffodil Road, Mount View, was stabbed to death in his shop last Wednesday, during a robbery. Policemen found his body in a pool of blood with several fatal wounds to the left side of his chest. Several items had also been stolen from his store.

Neville Camp, a long-time customer and friend of Chetty’s, spoke to Public Eye after placing a floral arrangement outside Chetty’s Tip Top Salon.

“I’ve been cutting my hair here for 20 years and what has happened is sad and devastating,” he said.

He also reflected on the last time he saw Chetty.

“Two weeks ago I had my hair cut by him. My parting words to him were, ‘see you in a few weeks.’ He laughed and said ‘see you next year.’ Little did I know that will be the last time I saw him.”

A man, who requested not to be named, arrived on the scene within minutes of the police described the moment when the shop owner’s body was found. “We waited for the police to arrive. We all knew him and wanted to help as much as we could but unfortunately it was already too late. The crime seemed quite violent. There was a lot of blood and his wounds were quite visible,” he said.

A business owner who operates close to Chetty’s store described the murder as barbaric.

“He has been in the area for close to 30 years. His father was a barber too. It is heartbreaking that his life had to end this way. He was a decent man who kept to himself,” he said.

Another business owner expressed how he suspected that the layout of Chetty’s shop made him unfortunately susceptible to this crime.

“The issue with his shop is that it is divided into different compartments that are fairly closed off. There are other tenants who operate their businesses in the front part of his shop so to get to him you have to walk through the shop. Whoever killed him knew this and could’ve walked in and pretended to be a customer. Sadly we could not hear anything because of this,” he said.

Other businessmen, who also did not want to be named, said crime in downtown Pietermaritzburg had suddenly surged. They attributed this to the increased number of vagrants in the city centre following the closure of the eMatsheni Beer Hall (corner of East

“These vagrants and whoonga smokers have been living at and around the beer hall. Now that it has been demolished, they have nowhere to go and are now preying on city centre businesses,”said the businessman.

He said further that there has been an increase in the number of beggars.

“This can only bode badly for our business. The few people that do come into the city centre now will really be threatened. How are we going to survive if they stop coming into town?”asked the businessman.

Sergeant Mthokozisi Ngobese said while no arrests had been made they were aware of the increase in petty crime in the city centre.

“We are investigating a case of armed robbery and murder. We are looking at ways of policing the increase in crime in the city centre,” he said.

Chetty was cremated on March 2 at the Mount Rise Crematorium.

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