The killing of Rand Water executive Teboho Joala and his bodyguard on Monday is believed to be a hit, according to the residents of Zakariyya Park.
Sithembiso Zungu, the chief whip for the City of Johannesburg council, and two other people sustained injuries when they were also shot during the attack.
Along with other representatives from the City of Johannesburg and Rand Water, they were taking part in a campaign that involved donating school shoes and other necessities to underprivileged children in Zakariyya.
The attack at Zakariyya Park Hall happened in full view of parents and school kids who were waiting to receive the shoes as donations.
One of the people who witnessed the attack said they were seated inside the hall when an unknown man entered and approached the Rand Water official.
“We were inside the hall, and the councillor had just finished welcoming the sponsors, children, and parents when this man entered and started shooting,” said the eyewitness, who chose not to be identified.
“We do not know whether the councillor was shot accidentally during the crossfire, but as the man shot on the executive several times, other shots went off outside, and it was his [Joala’s] bodyguard they were killing.”
The parent of one of the children who was supposed to benefit from the donation claimed that Joala had previously faced threats to his life.
He said the donation at Orange Farm was scheduled for last year but was called off abruptly. There were rumours going around that threats of death were the reason for the cancellation.
During a visit to the area on Tuesday morning, Sunday World noticed a vehicle riddled with bullets parked outside the community hall where the shooting took place.
The vehicle belongs to Mandisa Muruge, a social worker and ward committee member. She had parked the vehicle in the shade of a tree.
Sadly, shots were fired while Joala’s bodyguard was likewise standing beneath the tree, striking both the vehicle and him.
Panic inside the hall
According to the eyewitness, the children started screaming, and the parents thought there might be a stampede.
“Our biggest concern was that the children did not step on each other as they were running away,” said the eyewitness. We are grateful that our children came out of that hall alive because it was chaotic.”
Muruge told Sunday World that children from five local primary schools were inside the hall when shots rang out.
Said Muruge: “When this man entered the hall going to the executive, we were not alarmed because we thought he was one of the parents; we couldn’t see that he had a gun. He only took it out as he was about to shoot.”
Muruge stated that people need to speak out against the killings that are occurring in the country and take a stand.
“The reason I am so upset is because primary school kids were packed in this hall; they were screaming and scared for their lives.
“In an event like that, you do not even think something of that nature can happen.
“They witnessed such brutality; they saw blood coming out of his [Joala] body like it was coming out of a tap, and they will live with that vision and trauma for the rest of their lives.
“Trauma is like a seed; it grows, and these kids might end up going for coping mechanisms that are not healthy.”
Healing the community
Muruge revealed that a prayer session will be held in an attempt to heal the community.
“I will speak to different church leaders around to ask them to come here and pray, because not only lives were lost here, but the children’s lives were destroyed. We will pray for their healing,” she said.
Colonel Dimakatso Nevhuhulwi, the spokesperson for police in Gauteng, said the search is on for the suspects.
“It is reported that an unknown number of suspects entered the hall where there was a donation function and started shooting before fleeing the scene with an unknown white vehicle,” said Nevhuhulwi.
“Two people were declared dead on the scene, while three others were taken to the hospital with gunshot wounds.”