Cape Town - He modelled for Woolworths, Mr Price, Ackermans and Jet. He graced TV screens, magazines and billboards, and was nicknamed “Celebration” because of his seven-year modelling career.
But on Tuesday night, his life was cut short. Seventeen-year-old Aphiwe Mgoqi was stabbed 17 times and stoned to death by a group of about 100 teenagers.
On Wednesday, police were trying to work out the motive for Aphiwe’s murder.
His family does not know why anyone would harm their boy – he had no enemies, was not a gang member and was, by all accounts, a model pupil.
Nomfundo Mgoqi, his mother, said she could not believe what had happened.
“It feels like he’s gone to school and will walk in any time,” she sobbed.
While police are trying to piece together the puzzle of why Aphiwe was targeted, a witness told the Cape Argus that Aphiwe and a friend had accompanied two girls to New Crossroads.
But it appeared the girls led Aphiwe into a trap. When they got to Manyano Street, the girls made a phone call and were overheard saying: “We have them.”
Soon a crowd appeared.
The friend fled, but Aphiwe was caught.
The crowd, armed with pangas, knives and stones, surrounded Aphiwe and began to assault him.
“He tried climbing over a wall of a house. He was already over the wall but they grabbed his arm, stabbed him with a panga and then dragged him back over the wall,” said a witness.
The witness saw the gang hack Aphiwe with pangas and bash his head with chunks of concrete.
Two blocks away, Nomaza Mgoqi, Aphiwe’s grandmother, heard calls from the street, urging her to come out because her grandson had been stabbed.
When she arrived at the scene, Aphiwe’s body had been covered with a blanket.
“When I lifted him, blood was streaming out of his body. There were two huge concrete stones right next to where his head was. He was gasping for air,” she said.
Aphiwe was taken to KTC Hospital in Gugulethu where he died.
“He was a good boy. Whenever he needed something he would bribe me by calling me ‘my beloved grandmother’ – that was his way of getting to me.”
Nomaza last saw Aphiwe earlier that day when he had served everyone a cup of tea. He left without telling them where he was going and is now “returning home in a coffin”.
Aphiwe recently moved back to his grandmother’s house after his mother’s shack caught fire in Valhalla Park on Sunday.
“He was barely here a week and I’m already burying my son,” Nomfundo cried.
Residents who knew the teen said their hearts were shattered.
Lumka Zakhe called on the government and police to take action. “We want the station commissioner to come see what is happening here. We as community members need to take a stand against this because the parents of these (gang) children protect them.”
Residents said they feared the gang violence would spread to other areas in Gugulethu.
“We don’t want to be hostages in our own homes,” said Zakhe.
Aphiwe’s modelling agency, 3D Management, says it still cannot believe he has been murdered.
“I can’t concentrate on my work,” said his model booker, Buyelwa Cynthia Jali, who said that when 3D started the kids market seven years ago, Aphiwe, then only 10, was the first child it signed. “He was such a sweet, charming boy... a hard worker most of our clients loved.”
Aphiwe had only had two castings before he was booked for his first job, at Ackermans, and had since done shoots for Woolworths’ Studio W range, Edgars, Jet and Mr Price.
“Mr Price ads are done in Durban, so every now and then he would fly there with his mother.”
“He did not deserve to die like that,” Jali said, adding clients who had booked Aphiwe before for shoots had been told of his death.
Meanwhile, the mood at Aphiwe’s school, Walmer Secondary, was sombre. Principal Raymond Jansen said a pupil had told him the news on Tuesday night.
He had made the announcement to the school on Wednesday.
“Pupils were in tears, even those who just met him this year. They couldn’t stop crying because he was a great peer to have.”
Aphiwe had been repeating Grade 9 this year, and Jansen said he was a pupil who had always tried to give his best. The teen’s murder had come as a surprise because judging by the way he behaved “he was definitely not a gangster”.
Aphiwe was soft-spoken, quiet and exemplary, “the type of pupil every teacher would love to have in class, because even if you shout at him he would never backchat. We have lost a good pupil”.