Durban - Colin Pather’s cellphone, bank cards and bag remained untouched as he bled to death after a shooting in the driveway of his Shallcross home on Thursday afternoon.
The killing has sent shockwaves through the Chatsworth community.
Nothing had been stolen from him and the killing appeared to be a professional hit.
His family confirmed the autopsy had been completed on Friday morning.
Pather, 50, worked in the finance department of eThekwini Municipality and speculation was rife on social media on Friday that his murder was linked to a slew of new arrests this week of councillors, municipal officials and workers over the multimillion-rand tender fraud case, for which former mayor Zandile Gumede has also been charged.
But the Hawks and SAPS remained tight-lipped, with Hawks’ Brigadier Hangwani Malaudzi on Friday denying Pather was a State witness in the matter.
On Friday, Pather’s family told of the horror of the killing. His mother was at the house with a relative when the shooting happened.
When the Independent on Saturday arrived at the Pather’s modest home on Friday morning, family had already gathered. Decorations from his recent 50th birthday party still adorned the walls on the veranda, while chairs were being delivered for his funeral, to be held on Saturday.
A family member who did not want to be named, said: “Colin’s transport had dropped him off. He got to the gate and had bent over to unlock it. A white SUV came up and stopped. A man got out, ran across to Colin and, without saying anything, shot him in the head.
“His mother heard the shot and thought it was a hijacking. Our uncle ran out to the driveway.
“He felt Colin’s pulse, which was very weak, he was bleeding profusely and within 30 seconds he died.
“Colin always stood for what’s right. It’s a tragedy that has left a void in this family which can never be mended.”
Pather’s sister, Charlene, described him as “the most honest guy I know and he would not tolerate any kind of wrong. We think he had received threats and his colleagues said they got emails saying ‘pay or watch your back’”.
She said their father had died when she was young and her brother “was always there to help. He was the provider for our family. He was the backbone”.
Chatsworth CPF chairperson Jakes Singh said: “We were all shocked and surprised to learn of Colin Pather’s death. We hope this matter is investigated thoroughly and that every clue will be followed up. Our condolences to his mother and family. Coming at the start of the festive period, to lose his life in such circumstances has saddened and shocked the Chatsworth community.”
Amawele Emergency Services spokesperson Sivan Subramodey confirmed Pather had a single gunshot wound to the back of his head.
While eThekwini Municipality did not respond yesterday to a request for comment, comments and pictures of the hit-style killing were being shared on WhatsApp and other social media sites.
Some Twitter comments included:
“Our hearts cry for his parents who now cradle the lifeless son they raised to do the right thing - it cost him his life”
“Wacked, finance department says it all”
“Mafia-run municipality. You don’t comply, you get taken out”
“I’m sure there’s some deal he refused to let happen”
“He knew too much”
This week, the Hawks arrested four eThekwini councillors and three contractors, bringing to 22 the number of people who have been held over the R208million “dirty” Durban Solid Waste tender fraud.
Eight employees were arrested for fraud relating to weighbridge invoices.
After the arrests, Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi said the suspects had been arrested this week in connection with receiving gratifications, money laundering, fraud and contravention of the Municipal Management Finance Act and Municipal Systems Act.