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Johannesburg - Mupo Ndhlovu arrived in South Africa four years ago, looking for a job to support his family in Malawi.
That dream was shattered on Friday when Ndhlovu, 29, was shot and killed by a group of robbers on the Muldersdrift farm where he worked.
His countryman and colleague, Keston Banda, 46, is on life support after being shot.
It’s the latest in a string of attacks in the area that have left several people dead and the survivors traumatised.
Ndhlovu and Banda are believed to have been followed home on Friday night, hours after they had received their monthly wages.
“I say to them every month when I pay them, ‘Don’t go out with your money now – you’re vulnerable’, but they went to a shebeen about a kilometre away,” said their employer, Carol Starkey.
“People would have seen they had money.”
Shortly after returning to their cottages on the farm around 11pm, five masked robbers shot both men, stealing their money and a cellphone.
Carol’s husband Paul was called to the scene by Banda’s girlfriend.
“Ndhlovu was already dead in his room. Banda was alive, but non-responsive. Both had been shot in the forehead, execution-style.”
Now, as Banda lies in the intensive care unit at a Joburg hospital, Ndhlovu’s family are struggling to raise the R25 000 it will cost to take his body back to Malawi.
Ndhlovu came to South Africa to find work in 2008 on the advice of his cousin, Joe Manda.
Ndhlovu did odd jobs before being hired by the Starkeys two months ago.
“He was still in the training process, but he was such an enthusiastic young man,” said Carol.
Banda, a naturalised South Africa citizen, has been working for the family for 19 years.
“It’s devastating,” said Paul. “He’s very much a part of the family – my right-hand man.”
The Starkeys were tied up and robbed in June last year. Another tenant on their property was shot in April. For the first time, they are considering leaving the area.
Meanwhile, police arrested at the weekend a 33-year-old man, who they believe has been involved in several recent violent crimes in Muldersdrift.
“The suspect was found in possession of two 9mm pistols with 11 rounds of ammunition, a suspected stolen motor vehicle, a blue light and a siren,” said police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini.
The man had been linked to a hijacking in Katlehong in February.
The suspect had “not yet been linked” to the attack on Ndhlovu and Banda, but police would work “around the clock to identify the responsible criminals”, Dlamini said.