A key witness in a hijacking case was coldly shot in the face in a suspected attempt to get the case thrown out of court, highlighting again how witnesses appear to be increasingly targeted in Port Elizabeth to silence them.
Yandile Mbaza, 43, was gunned down in the lounge of his New Brighton house while eating supper on Sunday night.
He was the victim of a hijacking in November, with the case due to be heard in the New Brighton Magistrate’s Court next month.
Mbaza’s murder has led to a task team of veteran detectives taking over the case.
Police suspect the killing was planned from jail as two of the alleged hijackers are still in custody at St Albans Prison.
They were arrested just days after the hijacking.
Police have said that Mbaza was confronted last week by unidentified men and warned to withdraw the case. He refused. Mbaza was shot in the face while sitting on the couch in his lounge, eating supper.
Although details were still sketchy, nothing appeared to be missing from the house, according to police.
The state’s case now hangs in the balance, with the prosecuting authority to decide whether the charges against the hijacking suspects should be dropped or whether there is enough evidence to proceed with the case.
Police spokesman Captain Beetge confirmed the killing.
“He [Mbaza] was eating and two men Andre entered the house and shot him at pointblank range. He died at the scene.”
Mbaza was hijacked in the driveway of his house in Dingaan Street, New Brighton, on November 1 by a group of four or five who threatened to kill him before speeding off in his car, a VW Jetta.
Luvuyo Kwatsha, 25, and Xolani Nonyathi, 26, were arrested within three days. The others are still at large. Asked about the murder being arranged in jail, Beetge said this was being investigated.
He said the suspects had been linked to other cases of hijacking and robbery.
“It appears that with the evidence already gathered, we will be able to proceed with the case, but this will only be determined after the prosecutor has viewed the docket,” Beetge said.