MMC Nonhlanhla Sifumba, restaurant owner Sakhumzi Maqubela and mayor Herman Mashaba discuss security measures to combat crime in the famed Vilakazi Street following Sunday's murder. Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso
Johannesburg - As Vilakazi Street comes to terms with Sunday’s gruesome murder of a manager at Sakhumzi Restaurant, Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba has vowed to improve security in the area.

Mashaba met restaurant owner Sakhumzi Maqubela and other local businesses to discuss the safety issues on this world-famous Soweto street.

The mayor was joined at the talks by economic development MMC Sharon Peetz and community development MMC Nonhlanhla Sifumba.

“The Sakhumzi tragedy is a countrywide problem. We must help these businesses succeed.

“We must make sure residents and tourists feel safe.

“We won’t allow criminals to intimidate our businesses and livelihood. People must come and support Sakhumzi without fear,” Mashaba said.

He explained that part of the plan to beef up security included CCTV equipment and increased police visibility.

“I will have discussions with the provincial commissioner to ensure that the best people are deployed to investigate this Sakhumzi incident,” he added.

Several business owners from the area made it clear to the media that they would not be intimidated by criminals and said they were glad Mashaba had visited the scene and seen the situation for himself.

Mashaba also promised better street lighting for Vilakazi Street and added that this street was not only about Sakhumzi but about South Africa as a whole.

“From a tourism perspective, our country is faced with major challenges, high unemployment and perceptions that we are a violent country.

“We take this matter very seriously and we want these criminals to be put behind bars as a matter of urgency,” he said.

During the early hours of Sunday morning, two gunmen entered the restaurant after it had closed while staff were cashing up.

Gauteng police spokesperson Captain Kay Makhubele said the 60-year-old manager approached the men to tell them the restaurant was closed, and they opened fire and shot him several times when he refused to let them in.

“He died on the scene and the men fled. A manhunt has been launched and we are looking for two males.

“We call on anyone with information to come forward and approach their nearest police station.” Makhubele said.

Sunday’s murder and attempted robbery wasn't the first time the well-known restaurant had been hit by robbers.

Late last year, several robbers managed to rob the restaurant and escaped with a substantial amount of money.

Sakhumzi isn't the only restaurant in the area that has been hit in recent months, with several other businesses being targeted since October.

Enquiries sent to the Department of Tourism about its plans to secure the area went unanswered by the time of publication.

The Star