Johannesburg - A Soweto family are in mourning after suffering a double tragedy when their loved one was shot and killed by armed robbers while they were busy making arrangements to pay for a deceased relative at a funeral parlour in Jabulani, Soweto, on Tuesday.
Mother-of-three Irene Mollo, 61, survived the shooting when a bullet grazed her head but had to endure the agony of watching her son die after the thugs gunned him down in the parking lot at the funeral parlour.
The gunmen robbed the family of R23350 they had just withdrawn from a bank at Maponya Mall - money they intended using to pay for the funeral of 43-year-old Lindiwe Mtolo, who died last Thursday.
Moroka police station confirmed the incident and launched a hunt for the killers.
The tragic shooting took place as the family from Diepkloof were about to make a payment for the funeral of their relative this weekend.
Speaking with her head bandaged on Thursday, the grief-stricken 61-year-old mother said she suspected that they were followed from Maponya Mall after they made the withdrawal, because as soon as they arrived at the parlour, they were ambushed at gunpoint by two men.
“The first thing they said to us was ‘take out the money or you’re all going to die’. How did they even know we had money? My son tried to fight them off but was shoved to the ground. I tried to politely explain to the robbers that the money was going to be used for a burial but they continued fighting,” said Mollo.
In the next few minutes, she heard gunshots and remembered a burning sensation across her head. She said a bullet grazed her and she fell to the ground. “It was at that moment I witnessed my two children being shot,” she said.
Mollo’s son, 38-year-old Grant Mtolo, was shot dead, while her other son, 32-year-old Percy Mollo, was shot in the thigh. The woman said they called paramedics to the scene, who, according to her, took some time to arrive.
“It would have been better if I died, not my kids. Percy was lying there helpless. No words can begin to describe the amount of pain I felt at the moment,” she told The Star from her home on Thursday.
The injured mother and son were rushed to Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital soon afterwards, and were discharged on Wednesday afternoon.
According to the family, Grant was their breadwinner. He is survived by his wife, Itumeleng Mmolawa, and their three-month-old baby boy.
The family have decided to have the funeral services of both siblings on Saturday next week.
A spokesperson for SCS funeral parlour in Jabulani said they would cover all the costs for the first funeral.
Moroka police station’s Captain Mpande Khoza warned members of the public to avoid carrying large sums of money.
“If you have to pay someone with a large amount of cash, transfer such money to the other party or withdraw the money and at the same time deposit it in the same shopping mall to the other party’s bank account,” said Khoza.
He urged community members to be vigilant at all times and to use electronic banking to avoid such situations.
“Also know that hiding the money on your body will not help you, as these criminals monitor you when you are withdrawing the money from the bank.
“Some of them work with the bank tellers, who give them signals about you,” he added.