Zandile Mbabela email@example.com
A NELSON Mandela Bay businessman was shot dead at his home yesterday by intruders who ordered him to lie on the floor before pumping two bullets into the back of his head, while his terrified four-year-old son watched.
Mystery surrounds the motive of Sonwabo Mkhwelo’s execution-style murder, with his traumatised young child telling police and family members the killers were dressed like policemen. The shooting occurred at about midday at Mkhwelo’s home in Mahambehlala Street, Kwazakhele.
Neighbours were summoned to the gruesome scene by the boy, who was the sole witness. One of Mkhwelo’s neighbours, Monwabisi Tshaka, said the little boy had stood in the doorway and called out to him as he walked past, saying his dad was dead and that the police had shot him.
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“I asked him how he knew that and he said the ‘police’ had told him so,” a shaken Tshaka said.
“Clearly, he wasn’t sure what was going on, or merely associated guns with police.”
Mkhwelo, 38, shared his newly renovated home with his girlfriend, Zuki Gaca, the boy’s mother. Gaca was at work when the shooting occurred.
While the police said they could not comment on possible motives, Mkhwelo’s younger brother, Simphiwe, said it could be linked to a recent altercation his brother had had with a police officer.
However, he could not say what the argument had been about.
“My brother was a businessman who had renovated his home recently and some people were jealous about that,” he said. “And my nephew told us the men who shot his father had been dressed the same as the policemen who questioned him, so right now we don’t know what to make of all this.”
Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Dumile Gwavu confirmed that Mkhwelo, who had managed a bodywork shop called Crash Doctor in North End, had been shot.
According to the police, only his wallet was taken, but Simphiwe said both Mkhwelo’s phones were missing. Asked about the claims by the child that the assailants had been in police uniform, Gwavu said this information was not in the police statement given by the child, although he “did mention police”.
He said they would investigate the boy’s claims.
When The Herald visited the scene of the shooting yesterday, the little boy clung to his aunt while residents watched as police combed his home for evidence.
Mkhwelo’s cousin, who did not want to be named, said neighbours had come to fetch her from the nearby Thamsanqa High School, where she works as a cleaner, after learning of the shooting. “When I got to the house, there were police and people everywhere, and I didn’t know what was going on,” she said.
“I was then told my cousin had been shot dead and that he had been with his son when it happened. I just took the child and put him on my back to keep him warm and we’re waiting to hear from the police what could possibly have happened.”
The shooting has rocked the Kwazakhele community.
A group of residents who gathered around the yellow police line that cordoned off the neat two- bedroom home said they could not believe this could happen in broad daylight.
Neighbour Sange Yobe said: “We’re all in shock. We didn’t even hear a gunshot, yet we live so close together. We only heard from the little boy that his dad was gone.”
Victoria Maneli described Mkhwelo as a “nice and jokey” person who was easy to approach.
“I can’t think why anyone would want to do this to him. I am so shocked by this, really, because I’d just seen him yesterday and now I come back to this news,” she said.
Police are urging the community to work with them in bringing the suspects to book.
Anyone with information can contact Captain Totius Gerber on 082-3030450.