File picture: Independent Media
Durban - Hours after celebrating his son’s wedding, an Eshowe father was shot dead in front of his family and friends, allegedly by his neighbour who earlier that day had helped with wedding preparations.

Another guest was also shot dead, and two others injured.

Quick-witted police nabbed the suspect when he tried to flee the area by hitch-hiking to Durban. His plans were thwarted when a local constable pretended to stop and give the suspect a lift, only to drive him straight to the nearest police station.

Mbhekiseni Petros Mthethwa, 53, and his friend, Sipho Mzimela Mnguni, 40, had been celebrating the marriage of Mthethwa’s son, Sizwe, to Sphiwe Thabethe at their home, with dozens of guests.

At about 8pm on Wednesday, gunshots were heard.

Read: Suspected murderer nabbed while hitchhiking after wedding shooting

A 27-year-old man, believed to be the Mthethwa’s neighbour, shot the father of the groom and his friend dead.

Two others were shot, one in the knee and the other in the stomach. It was believed the suspect left the celebrations to go to his house, and came back soon afterwards with a gun.

Speaking to The Independent on Saturday, the groom’s uncle, Sipho Mthethwa, said the family was still in shock.

“The day had gone so well. Everything had gone according to plan. The neighbour had been hands-on with preparations towards the wedding day, as any neighbour would.

“This boy ruined the wedding, the bridal couple are in shock, and they will for ever have negative memories associated with what was supposed to have been their special day,” said Mthethwa.

Other family members were too emotional to speak.

“The couple and the family are distraught. We don’t know why he did this. There was no dispute among us, to my knowledge,” said Mthethwa.

The funeral has been scheduled for next weekend.

Meanwhile, police have congratulated the swift actions of Constable Thuthukani Khuzwayo of the Eshowe SAPS Visible Policing department.

When Khuzwayo received information that the suspect was heading towards a popular local spot to hitch-hike, he leapt into action.

“Constable Khuzwayo used his own private car to chase the suspect who was reported to be proceeding to a hitch-hiking spot at Gingindlovu. He spotted the suspect fitting the description and saw that the suspect was hitch-hiking to Durban,” said SAPS spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala.

The officer pretended to be a civilian driver and stopped to give the suspect a lift towards Durban. However, Khuzwayo drove straight to Gingindlovu SAPS for back-up.

“The suspect was arrested and when his bag was searched police found clothing with blood stains,” said Gwala.

The suspect has been detained at the Eshowe police station on two counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder. He will appear in the Eshowe Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.

The KZN Acting Provincial Commissioner, Major-General Bheki Langa, welcomed the arrest and praised Khuzwayo for his dedication.