Mother fights for life after family shooting

Picture: Brian Witbooi
Picture: Brian Witbooi

Husband dies on scene in horror attack at PE school

APORT Elizabeth woman was fighting for her life in hospital last night after she was shot by her husband in the hostel kitchen of a special needs school. The man then turned the gun on himself and died at the scene.

The shocking incident erupted at Cape Recife School in Summerstrand, just an hour before the couple’s teenage daughter’s farewell dance at a nearby primary school.

The couple are not being named as their next of kin have not yet been informed.

The woman, 55, and her daughter live on the school grounds, where the woman is employed as a hostel super visor.

The man is believed to have been in his late 50s.

The shooting comes amid the national 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children campaign and is the third murder of wives in the Eastern Cape in about three weeks.

In two of the cases, including this one, the women were in the process of divorcing their husbands.

Staff, security and other people on the grounds at the well-secured school for children with special education needs closed ranks immediately after the incident and refused to talk to the media or allow them onto the school grounds.

The latest shooting happened at about 5.30pm.

The man’s body was removed from the school well after 8pm.

Port Elizabeth police spokesman Captain Johan Rheeder said an argument preceded the shooting.

“The man then shot the woman three times in the upper body, and then shot himself.

“The woman was taken to hospital in a critical condition,” Rheeder said.

“Because the man has died, we have opened an inquest and attempted murder docket.”

The woman’s brother did not want to comment, saying he had been instructed by the police not to say anything.

A source said the couple’s daughter had been taken to the dance, knowing that her mother had been taken away in an ambulance but without having been told the full story.

It is believed the couple have older children from previous relationships.

According to insiders, the husband had, until recently, also been employed at the school.

Their daughter had been at a nearby house preparing for the dance when the tragedy occurred.

“At the time of the shooting, the woman was in the hostel kitchen with another staff member when her husband burst in and started shooting,” a police official at the scene said.

“The security guard had let him through in his bakkie. They thought nothing of it as the wife lives on site with the child.

“When police and medical personnel arrived, the couple were lying next to each other in the kitchen, with the woman still conscious but bleeding profusely, while the man had died.”

The police official said the traumatised employee who had witnessed the shooting had also been taken to St George’s Hospital.

“She is suffering from shock and could barely talk when officers arrived at the school.

“Medics rushed her and the gunshot victim to hospital.

“The wife was drifting in and out of consciousness and was completely disorientated and suffering from a massive loss of blood.”

Most of the schoolchildren who live in the hostel were away for the summer holidays.

“The hostel is being rented out and moments before the shooting, the people were making their way to the kitchen and dining area. They were all turned away,” he said.

Cape Recife principal Jaques Hugo could not be reached for comment.

Last night’s shooting follows a spate of other violent incidents involving women recently.

On Thursday last week, Simon Nkonki, an armed response officer for ADT Security, and his wife Nthabiseng, a constable at the Jeffreys Bay police station, were found dead inside their bedroom in their Strelitzia Street, Jeffreys Bay, home shortly before 7am.

Simon is believed to have used Nthabiseng’s police firearm to shoot her and then himself.

Meanwhile, the husband of a policewoman who was gunned down outside her Motherwell home last month was arrested at a memorial service for her in Kwazakhele yesterday. The arrest came just days after police identified him as a “person of interest” in the investigation into the murder of Nomathamsanqa Ivy Tsitsi, 36.

Police pounced on Tsitsi’s husband, Mlungisi, also 36, at the service on Tuesday.

Tsitsi’s mother, Nofikile Mtwesi, 71, said Mlungisi’s arrest was a major relief. “Although this will never bring her back, I am happy the law is taking its course,” the grieving woman said.

“What I want now is to have my daughter buried in the Transkei.”

Mtwesi said there had been a troubled relationship between the couple.

Mlungisi’s arrest comes just a week after Port Elizabeth High Court Judge Belinda Hartle dismissed an application by Mtwesi to oversee the burial of her daughter, who was married in community of property.

Mtwesi alleged in her affidavit that the marriage was characterised by violent physical assaults.

But Mlungisi denied assaulting his wife of almost eight years. Tsitsi did not leave a will. Attorney Bongani Sikweyiya, for Mtwesi, said there were two options available to the family to have the matter finalised.

“The first option is to revert back to the court and bring an urgent application to have the husband release the body to us because we do not know how long he will be in custody,” Sikweyiya said.

“Alternatively, we can liaise with Mlungisi’s lawyers to see if they will consent to give us the body for burial.”

Police spokesman Captain Andre Beetge said only that a 36-year-old relative had been arrested in connection with the murder.

According to police officials with links to the case, Tsitsi was cooperating fully. Tsitsi has been off work since his wife’s killing on November 12. She had been in the process of divorcing him.

To date, four people have been arrested in connection with the case. Two others are still being sought. Tsitsi was shot inside her vehicle as she arrived home shortly after finishing night shift at about 6am.

Msindisi Bhebhula, 24, Thembani Rorwana, 31, and Ndiphe Soqokomashe, 46 – who were all arrested between Friday and Sunday – appeared in court on Monday and were remanded in custody.

They were allegedly all involved in the hit which police believe was meant to look like a botched robbery.

Bhebhula, Rorwana, and Soqokomashe are due to appear in court again on January 12.

Tsitsi will appear in the Motherwell Magistrate’s Court today.

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