Teen escapes planned hit
An Eastern Cape teen is thanking God and his ancestors for his life after being ambushed by gunmen who pumped bullets into the vehicle he was driving on Friday.
The home of a senior Mthatha prosecutor was also hit, apparently by stray bullets.
Police found R5 assault rifle cartridges on the scene at Xongora village near Mthatha. Family of Adudume Mtirara, 19, believe the target was his older brother Nkosi Avelile Sakhisizwe Mtirara, who heads the Xongora Traditional Council.
“These people wanted nothing but to kill. The shooting took a couple of minutes. The vehicle has bullet holes all over including the windscreen and windows,” said Mtirara.
Avelile had driven the car the whole day. Only minutes before the shooting his brother drove off in the grey Polo Vivo.
Avelile had been visiting relatives whose son, Mlungisi Matete, 35, was shot in his car on the Xongora road where it joins the R61 on January 29. He was buried on Saturday.
Matete’s father, Jibilikile Matete, said: “We live in fear. [Police minister] Bheki Cele must assist. His police officers must arrest the killers of my son.”
Cele, speaking at the funeral of OR Tambo mayor Nomakhosazana Meth’s two sons last month, said Bhityi and Xongora were hotspots for stocktheft and murder.
On the advice of his family and traditional councillors and advisers, Avelile Mtirara is now in hiding. Adudume said: “Avelile asked me to drive the car home as he was driving another car taking other people to other villages. As I drove past a small bridge with bush on the side I heard the cracking of a firearm. It came like a big storm, like the crackling of lightning. I drove as fast as I could, screaming for help, but bullets flew in all directions. I thought I was dead, but was shocked to notice I was still alive, and not even injured. God is great, it was His miracle that I am still alive to tell the story. When I saw the number of bullets that were pumped into the vehicle, I just collapsed and cried and cried. God and my ancestors shielded me.
“These people were trying to kill my brother. It was some sort of mistaken identity.”
Mthatha cluster chief prosecutor Vuyani Genu said he was asleep inside his home when stray bullets hit. They broke windows and damaged walls, doors, couches and a table. He has opened a case.
In a telephone interview, Avelile said: “There is fear around my life. We feel my life is at stake. This was targeting. I am thankful to God that He shielded my brother. Why am I a target? I do not remember having any enemies in my areas.”
Nkosi Zwelithobile Mtirara, chair of the Mthatha Traditional Leaders’ forum and uncle of the Mtirara brothers, said: “We are very concerned about the high number of killings in Bhityi and Xongoraa. Recently a wife and her husband were shot and killed, and at the end of the year three men were shot and killed in their vehicle. We appeal to Bheki Cele to prioritise and upgrade Bhityi to have a fully fledged police station with enough resources and police with special skills. There are many firearms circulating in the hands of the wrong people. It is like there is a killing every weekend. We are under siege.”
Police spokesperson Captain Nozuko Handile said the attack on Friday was at about 9pm. She appealed to people to help track down the suspects...