Journalist killed during hotel and casino robbery in South Africa


Johannesburg – A North West journalist was shot dead during an armed robbery at a hotel and casino in Mafikeng, police said on Thursday.

Colonel Lesego Metsi said Thabo Khongoana was shot from close range with an AK-47 rifle.

“He was shot dead from behind through the chest. What could have led to this killing is not yet known. It is suspected that they realised he had a camera and so he was shot.”

Khongoana was editor and publisher of the Mafikeng-based TaxiTimes.

Metsi said about nine heavily-armed men entered the hotel after holding security staff at gunpoint and made off with an undisclosed amount of cash.

A Toyota double-cab bakkie used in the robbery was found abandoned about 3km from the hotel.

“It has false registration numbers and we suspect it might have been stolen.”

Metsi said according to the hotel the robbers were on the premises last week.

Mmabatho Palms Hotel Casino said Khongoana was shot dead while leaving the hotel after attending a government function.

“This callous and senseless act is very upsetting to us all. I would like to convey our deepest sympathies to the deceased’s family, friends and colleagues.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and loved ones during this very difficult time,” said Mmabatho Palms general manager Leon Nel in a statement.

“We will like to reassure visitors and loyal patrons that their safety is of paramount concern.”

North West premier Maureen Modiselle said she had learnt with shock and sadness about the untimely death of Khongoana. “On behalf of the entire North West provincial government, I will like to send condolences to the Khongoana family, the staff at TaxiTimes and everyone who knew this man who was so passionate about news and the development of community-based media in the North West province,” she said.