In a double tragedy, armed robbers shot dead two East London businessmen on Wednesday.
Brett Pope of Sanan’s Supermarket, and motorist JJ Kobus Fourie, who was driving behind him, were shot dead by ruthless hijackers.
Fourie was killed by the trigger-happy thugs when he tried to come to Pope’s assistance.
The killers, posing as hitchhikers, jumped on Pope’s vegetable delivery truck on the corner of the Mdantsane Access and Robbie de Lange roads in the morning.
Anele Kunca, who was in the cab with Pope, escaped unharmed.
He said the truck came to a stop at the traffic lights on the Black Road. The two “hitchhikers” suddenly clambered onto the back of the white delivery truck. “We were going to stock up with vegetables at the East London market.”
The attackers whipped out guns. “They told us to get off the vehicle. My boss drove off and they kept on knocking on the window with a gun, indicating that we should stop the car.
“My boss continued driving and one of the guys started shooting at him.”
He said the truck swerved on the road and five shots were fired through the glass, with two hitting Pope in the head and upper body.
He said the truck came to a halt. “The doors were locked and when the truck stopped they broke the window and took all the money my boss had with him.”
Kunca said the robbers then fired shots at the vehicle behind them.
“There was a white bakkie following us. I think the guys inside that bakkie saw we were in danger and followed us but after the criminals shot my boss they started to shoot at those guys as well.”
East London police spokesperson Warrant Officer Hazel Mqala confirmed both killings.
“Another motorist in his 50s who was driving a Nissan bakkie was also shot and certified dead by the paramedics,” she said.
“The driver of the truck, who sustained upper body gunshot wounds, was taken to hospital and later succumbed to his injuries. An undisclosed amount of cash has been taken.”
Pope was part of the popular the family-run Sanan’s Supermarket in Garcia Street, Cambridge, one of the few old-style grocers left in East London.
The shop was closed, with a notice posted on the front of the shop: “Sorry we are closed for business today.”
Fifteen staff members were seen consoling each other shortly before they were told to go home.
A woman who spoke to the Dispatch at the door said they would speak to the media on Thursday.
“Look, this is tragic and we are still traumatised over what has happened. This has affected the family and staff very badly, so we ask that you come back tomorrow,” she said.
Fourie, said his friend Duane Nel, was a manager at Prism Products. He leaves behind two daughters and a stepson, as well as a granddaughter.
Border-Kei Chamber of Business chairman Les Holbrook said armed attacks were having a devastating impact on businesses across the city.
“Society is teetering on the brink of anarchy and it’s not helped by political parties that will not condemn these acts,” Holbrook said.
“The perception for everyone is that East London – once a quiet city that has so much to offer – is no longer safe.”
Condolences have been pouring on social media. – Additional reporting by Mike Loewe