Family demands justice after fruit vendor shot dead in hair salon

Witnesses say private security guards shot dead 37-year-old Zimbabwean Lloyd Bhebhe

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Juliana Sibanga (left), Lloyd Bhebhe’s aunt, and his mother Patricia Sibanga (right), asked GroundUp to photograph them last week with the blood stains still on the ground where the fruit vendor was fatally shot. Photos: Kimberly Mutandiro

  • The body of a Zimbabwean street vendor, shot dead while trying to sell fruit in a Gauteng business complex, was repatriated to Zimbabwe over the weekend.
  • 37-year-old Zimbabwean street vendor, Lloyd Bhebhe, was allegedly shot by two private security guards in Alberton North.
  • His mother says he was suffering from mental illness.
  • Last week activists held a picket at the site where the street vendor was shot, demanding justice for his killing.
  • Police say no arrests have been made and the investigation is continuing.

The body of 37-year-old Lloyd Bhebhe, shot dead while trying to sell fruit in an Alberton North business complex, was repatriated to Zimbabwe at the weekend.

Activists from the African Diaspora Workers Network, Zimbabwe Solidarity Network, family members and friends of Bhebhe gathered in the street last week at the hair salon where Bhebhe was shot dead. They claim that on 9 April, two Community Protection Service (CPS) security officers shot Bhebhe in the salon. Bhebhe was apparently seeking shelter in the salon after being chased away from another store. He apparently had an argument with one of the security guards about selling fruit at the business complex.

His mother, Patricia Sibanga, says Bhebhe was suffering from mental illness. “My son has been battling a mental illness for the past three years. He fell into a depression after losing his truck driver job and was battling to claim money from his old employer. He was taking medication for his mental condition,” she said.

Sibanga said that her son did not deserve to die in such a brutal manner. “All he wanted was to earn a living to help look after his family.”

Bhebhe’s relatives gathered around the blood-stained floor of the salon. Outside, people held up posters which read: “Justice for Lloyd”.

He is survived by his wife, their four young children, aged between two and nine, his mother and other relatives. His family live in a shack at Station informal settlement in Alberton North.

Police spokesperson in Ekurhuleni, Captain Neldah Sekgobela, confirmed that an inquest docket has been opened and the matter is still under investigation. Sekgobela said that the CPS officer’s statement has already been taken, but no arrest has been made.

When GroundUp contacted CPS Security, a spokesperson for the company said, “CPS is not in a position to provide a statement on the basis that this is an ongoing police investigation. CPS does not wish to interfere with the investigations of SAPS. CPS is co-operating with SAPS and will continue to do so.”

Witnesses told GroundUp that Bhebhe was known in the community and often tried to sell his fruit inside shops where he was not allowed to go. Mohlawuphele Zondi, a regular client at the salon, claims that several shots were fired at Bhebhe.

According to another resident, Julia Pengapenga, Bhebhe often “quarrelled with security officers or business owners who did not understand that he was mentally ill. He meant no harm”.

The body of Lloyd Bhebhe on its way to be repatriated to Zimbabwe at the weekend.

The African Diaspora Workers Network, in a statement last week, demanded justice for Bhebhe’s killing and that the security officers be brought to book.

“Lloyd was mentally challenged and eked out a living by selling fruits on the streets. Unfortunately, the perpetrators of this heinous crime simply walked away as if they had slaughtered a ‘wild animal’,” said chairperson Janet Munakamwe.

Tumelo Mogale of Lawyers for Human Rights said that they had been contacted by Bhebhe’s family to assist in following up on the case. LHR had been told that police were currently obtaining statements from witnesses, he said. “We also provided the officer with a list of witnesses.”

Mogale said LHR would monitor the case to ensure that proper procedures are followed, and that investigations are concluded within a reasonable time.

Bhebhe’s remains were repatriated to Zimbabwe with assistance from the Zimbabwe Solidarity Network. He is to be buried today.

TOPICS:  Crime Human Rights

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