Johannesburg - Philani Mvelase thought nothing of it when he saw Bongani Masuku drive south down Albertina Sisulu Street in Troyeville, Joburg, and park outside the Fairview fire station across from Sportsman’s Pub.
The musician remained inside his vehicle for more than an hour. This was a habit of Masuku’s, according to Mvelase.
“He liked this bar because he could park his car outside and sit in it,” said the bartender, who met the 50-year-old back-up vocalist for Johnny Clegg six years ago through a mutual friend.
Mvelase remembered Masuku as introverted but “not shy”, preferring to drink alone in his car or spending time in small groups. He spent most Saturday nights this way.
“He didn’t like to stay where the people are,” Mvelase said.
“Vusi (a mutual friend) would go in, but he would come in, maybe play some pool – two, three games – then go back to the car and stay there.”
Thus for more than an hour, unbeknown to anyone inside the pub, Masuku lay metres away, desperately needing help.
Finally Vusi – who did not want to give his surname – left the bar to check on his friend. He immediately summoned the help of firefighters on duty.
Masuku was pronounced dead at the scene.
“When they pulled up his shirt, I saw the bullet hole,” said Mvelase.
Police are still investigating the death of the singer, who was shot outside the gate of a house on Princes Street metres away from David Webster park.
Lieutenant-Colonel Katlego Mogale said Masuku was parking his vehicle around 8.10pm on Saturday when he was approached by four people, one of whom demanded his car keys at gunpoint.
After shooting the singer, the four men fled in a minibus.
Masuku then drove to the fire station, but collapsed before he could find help.
It rekindled memories of the death of reggae star Lucky Dube, 43, who was killed in a botched hijacking in Joburg seven years ago. Dube’s son was in the car with him when he was shot. The singer tried to drive off, but crashed into a tree.
Masuku is survived by his wife and four children.