Durban - eThekwini Municipality official, pastor and actor Mhlonishwa Sakhile Langa has been hailed as a hero after being shot and killed when he tried to stop a gunman who had robbed a shop in Durban’s South Beach area on Saturday.
Langa had parked his car at the roadside to see a friend in the area when he heard people screaming about a robbery.
Eyewitnesses, who spoke to the Daily News on Sunday, said Langa was shot in the chest as he alighted from his car to stop the man.
Witnesses arrested the gunman, while his accomplices got away.
Langa died at Addington Hospital later that day.
Police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele said four gunmen allegedly accosted employees at a South Beach Avenue supermarket.
“They robbed them of an undisclosed amount of cash and cigarettes at gunpoint, and fled. A community member, who assisted in chasing the suspect, was shot and injured. He was taken to hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries. The suspect was immediately arrested and the firearm was recovered. Cases of robbery and murder were opened at Point police station for investigation,” she said.
Langa, a stakeholder and protocol officer in the Parks, Recreation and Culture Department of eThekwini Municipality, was described on social media platforms as a hero, a people’s person, a man who lived to serve others, and who fought against social ills, including xenophobia.
Friends said he died for what he believed in, as he was chasing a gunman - who had robbed a shop belonging to a foreign national - when he was shot.
Langa had appeared on local TV dramas such as Mzansi Magic’s eHostela and on Lockdown.
He was also a pastor at eThekwini Community Church, and a popular Durban socialite and fashionista.
Thembinkosi Ngcobo, the head of Parks, Recreation and Culture, said Langa was a friend and colleague for the past four years.
He said Langa informed him and other managers 10 months ago that he had colon cancer.
Langa, divorced with one son, was fighting cancer courageously.
“He was brave, and although he was not himself, he was recovering and was starting to be himself again. He had fears that the cancer was going to kill him but never thought he could die like this, at the hands of criminals,” said Ngcobo.
“To me, he was more than a friend - a brother. He spoke a lot about his mother and that she was also battling with cancer. He expressed how grateful he was about other things that were working out for him and also spoke about his relationship with the church.
“He indicated that a part of him wanted to marry again, but the timing was not right,” he said.
The mood at eThekwini Community Church yesterday was sombre, as the congregation remembered how jovial Langa was during the previous Sunday’s service. Pastor Vusi Dube said Langa had sung a song, which they now view as his way of saying farewell to them.
“The level of crime in the South Beach area, Hospital Road and the Point area is getting out of hand. We’re disappointed that crime continues to terrorise this area. As a church based in this community, we want to uplift it. We need to work with the police to fight crime,” he said.
Dube said he had been friends with Langa for 20 years and not only was he a pastor in his church, but he was like a brother.
“He was a social person, very organised and a true leader. His death is not only a loss to his family, but to the people of Durban as well,” he said.