SOUTH AFRICA, OCTOBER 2004, Solly Tyibilika during the South African Springboks PhotoCall. Photo by Touchline Photo

Former Springbok rugby player Solly Tyibilika has been shot dead in a Cape Town shebeen.

The 32-year-old flanker was gunned down in a gangland-style hit shortly after he entered the house in New Crossroads, in Gugulethu.

According to the Daily Voice, three armed assassins walked up behind Solly as he sat drinking in the backyard with his buddies at 2.20pm on Sunday. Tyibilika died in a hail of bullets.

The shebeen owner was preparing food in the main house when she heard the burst of gunfire.

“I was in the kitchen when I heard gunshots, then when I went to check what happened, Solly was injured, but he died on the scene,” she told the Daily Voice.

“I don’t know how many suspects came in.”

One witness was in the shebeen when two men walked in and blasted Solly to death.

“One of them came to me and told me to ‘move to the side’. He said he wasn’t here to shoot me, but Solly who was sitting behind me,” the witness, who did not want to be identified, told the Daily Voice.

“I ran and went under the table and then I heard them shooting too many rounds to count.

“After that they left, but I was too scared to move and I could hear him (Tyibilika) struggle to breathe.

“I waited until people came to see what happened and ran to my car and went home.”

The Gugulethu man insists the murder was a clear hit.

“This was not a robbery because they left all the other patrons alive and killed him – there was no conversation, they just shot him,” he adds.

“And Solly clearly didn’t expect it because he didn’t show any sign of fear while sitting there.”

Two other patrons in the tavern were injured.

Port Elizabeth-born Tyibilika had been destined for great things.

He scored a try in his first match for the Boks against Scotland at Murrayfield in 2004 .

Solly was named in the Springboks’ 2006 Tri-Nations Series squad, but his career began to go downhill after this.

Last month the Daily Voice exclusively revealed how the ex-Bok was arrested with a gun.

He appeared in Athlone Magisrates’ Court on October 19, where he was charged with the illegal possession of a firearm, but was released on bail of R800.

Two days earlier, Tyibilika and two of his friends – Sandile Maqungu, 27 and Simon Dan Shumane, 25 – were arrested while driving in Gugulethu.

Police on patrol in the area became suspicious when they noticed a car driving around with its headlights switched off.

The police stopped the vehicle and found a lethal semi-automatic firearm in the glove compartment.

Police claim Tyibilika was driving when they pulled the car over.

On Sunday night police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk confirmed that no one has yet been arrested in connection with the killing.

“Yesterday, two unidentified men entered a tavern in a New Crossroads, in Gugulethu, and shot at the people inside,” he said.

“They then ran out and one was seen jumping into a cockroach taxi and another ran in to the direction of KTC.”

Anyone with information on the shooting is urged to call Crime Stop on 086 00 10111. - Daily Voice, IOL