Vi­lakazi Street mur­der: ‘Sakhumzi’s 9/11’

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - ILANIT CHERNICK @Lanc_02

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

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