Guard dies trying to restrain drunk

Attack came two hours after mother phoned to say his brother had been murdered

An East London security guard who tried to restrain a drunk customer arguing with another motorist over a parking space at a mall died after he was punched and hit his head on the pavement. Tragically, his death came just two hours after his mother had phoned him to say that his brother in Cape Town had been murdered.

Zukile Mhlakaza, 25, from Xhobani Security, sustained brain damage after the punch and was declared dead at Frere Hospital. His alleged attacker, truck driver, Luyanda Aya, 31, claimed he had acted in self-defence after security guards had tackled him.

But Xhobani bosses alleged Aya had been running amok, causing a disturbance.

“I can’t remember everything. I was drunk,” Aya said.

Mhlakaza’s boss, Sebenzile Somi, said Mhlakaza had been punched so hard that he fell, smashing his head against the concrete pavement. East London police spokesman Warrant Officer Hazel Mqala said a case of murder had been opened at the Fleet Street police station.

Aya, of Scenery Park, claimed he had been attacked by a group of security guards.

“I have a swollen face, swollen body and torn lips,” he said. “My kneecap is broken and my back has knobkerrie scars.”

Malcomess Mall security manager Eric Moss said the fight was allegedly started by the intoxicated truck driver, who had also been accused of assaulting a security guard at Tops before that.

Moss said the truck driver arrived in a Corolla and became embroiled in an argument with another motorist, who had pulled into a parking space ahead of him.

The other driver left, but Aya then went to a group of men and started arguing with them. “He was drunk,” Moss said.

Mhlakaza tried to restrain him and was punched. Moss said a crowd of bystanders took the side of the intoxicated man and wanted to attack the guards, but they dispersed when a Xhobani security manager pulled out his firearm.

“I had to draw my firearm otherwise we were going to be in trouble,” the manager, Sebenzile Somi, said.

Moss said the man had been seen drinking in the parking lot in front of Tops liquor store earlier. He said he had been battling for years to restrict customers from drinking in the parking lot.

“I put up signs stating clearly that the parking lot is a no-drinking zone, but customers would just say that we should stop selling alcohol at Tops if we want them to stop drinking there.”

Mhlakaza had worked for Xhobani since 2014. He was described both by the mall management and the security company as honest and hardworking.

Moss said: “He was very friendly. He was the most loved security guard at the mall. The way he communicated with everyone was absolutely brilliant.”

Mhlakaza’s family, who must now organise a double funeral at their Mqanduli home, were too upset to comment.

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