Vilakazi Street murder: ‘Sakhumzi’s 9/11’
TOURISM on Vilakazi Street and the surrounding areas could take a serious knock following the harrowing murder and attempted robbery at well-known restaurant Sakhumzi in the early hours of Sunday.
“This is Sakhumzi’s 9/11,” said Unathi Sonwabile Henama, a tourism lecturer at the Tshwane University of Technology.
He said the incident was deeply disturbing. “This could decrease the jobs created by tourism, as tourists will run scared of visiting the popular area, which has been a successful growth point that’s attracted tourism jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities.”
Proudly South African chief executive Eustace Mashimbye said not only did they mourn the loss of the restaurant’s manager, but also regretted that this crime had the potential to do untold damage to this and other tourist sites in Soweto and other townships.
“We send our condolences to the Sakhumzi community and the victim’s family and urge South Africans to continue to show their support for the restaurant by not letting this crime deter them from enjoying the great food and atmosphere for which it is deservedly so well known,” Mashimbye said.
The owner, Sakhumzi Maqubela, said in a statement yesterday that he was thankful for the messages of support since the terrible ordeal.
“This is a dark day for us and we are deeply saddened by what happened at the restaurant. Thank you for supporting us and being in our corner, we appreciate you,” he said.
On its Facebook page the restaurant said on Saturday night there was an attempted robbery at the restaurant.
“We closed at midnight, and at about 1am, men stormed in and shot one of the managers while attempting to make off with money. He later passed on.
“We are appalled at this and wish to let our customers know that their safety is our priority,” it said.
“Our condolences to the friends and family of the deceased. Thank you so much to the community for your support,” it added.
Despite the tragedy, the popular restaurant said it would remain open.
Patrons made it clear that they would continue to support the restaurant. Michelle Mabaso said they were all in her prayers “and we will never stop supporting your business”, while Max Monyemore said: “It won’t stop us coming to that side. Sakhumzi is the best restaurant in Soweto.”
Pota Motlokoa reiterated that the community would continue supporting the establishment.
“We will not be intimidated by such cowardly acts,” he said.
Also commenting on the restaurant’s Facebook post, Sibongile Tshabalala sent her condolences to the family and friends, and said she believed “the very same animals who attacked you that same night” had attacked a busy corner car wash in Mofolo, Soweto.
“They made everybody lie down and took their cellphones and money at gunpoint,” she said.
Police spokesperson Captain Kay Makhubele explained that the restaurant had closed for the evening and the staff were busy cashing up when the gunmen came through the entrance.
“The manager approached them to tell them that the restaurant was closed, and they shot him several times after he refused to let them in.
“He died on the scene and the men fled,” Makhubele said.
He confirmed the manager was 60 years old but said he was not able to release the man’s name at this stage. A manhunt had been launched.
This could hurt tourism and jobs on popular Vilakazi Street