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Hospital spokesman one of five killed

A tearful widow of one of five people killed in Flagstaff told the Daily Dispatch how she watched helplessly as her husband lay screaming and later took his last breath after two balaclava-clad gunmen pumped his body full of bullets on Thursday night.

Andile Pani, 39, a former newspaper journalist turned health spokesman, was one of those killed between late last week and Sunday.

The couple had just returned from a family event around 10.30pm when the gunmen opened fire on him. And as his screams turned into groans, his wife, Nwabisa, pleaded with their attackers to let her help him.

Instead, they said: “Ayifi na le nja”, which, loosely translated, means “Why is this dog not dying?”

She told a Dispatch team that visited her husband’s birth village of Sitshayelo in Lusikisiki: “He was a good man who never hurt anyone. Why did he have to die this way?”

Andile was working as a communications officer for the Kokstad-based East Griqualand and Usher Memorial Hospital at the time of his death.

Before that, he had a stint as a newspaper journalist in the same town around 2007.

Nwabisa said they heard about three gunshots as they were returning from the event.

At the time, they thought it was just random shooting on the streets. However, she later saw a figure inside the yard but thought it was their domestic worker.

Then the assailants opened fire on her husband.

“Andile was crying and fell down. There were two of our children in the house and the attackers told us to sit down. One went for our television set while another took out shoelaces which they used to tie our hands and feet,” she said.

Nwabisa said the two men received two phone calls from someone who inquired about their whereabouts.

They asked for his gun and money. Nwabisa replied that they did not have any. After laying unattended for a while, Nwabisa heard her husband’s painful groans and later she could hear him gasping for air.

Eventually they left on foot, and the victims were able to untie themselves and call for help from a cellphone that the robbers had missed.

Attempts to get comment from Lusikisiki police spokesman Captain Mduduzi Godlwana were unsuccessful. — sikhon@dispatch.co.za