Dad shot at soccer practice

2008-01-30 00:00

The armed men who shot and killed a well-known businessman in cold blood on Monday evening at his son’s soccer practice in Balfour Park, Johannesburg, probably thought their victim was busy calling the police on his cellphone because they had tried to rob a woman in the same parking area shortly before that.

But Sheldon Cohen (47), former CEO of the electronic equipment group Amalgamated Appliances (Amaps), was only speaking to his father, Jack, the non-executive chairman of that group.

Police spokesman Captain Phillip Maganedisa said that just moments before killing Cohen, the three men had tried to rob another parent who was at the practice session of her cellphone.

Jos Miller, who was waiting for her son, Dean, told Beeld last night that one of the three robbers tried to force her car door open and ordered her to give him her cellphone.

“I started screaming after he hit me and then just heard a loud ‘pop’ sound,” Miller said. She immediately jumped out of her car and ran towards the other parents where they were watching the practice.

Maganedisa said that in their attempt to get away, the attackers apparently saw Cohen speaking on his cellphone in his blue Toyota Rav4 three cars further along. They fired a shot, hitting him in the neck. He died on the scene.

“His windows were closed, the radio was apparently playing in his vehicle, and he possibly hadn’t even heard the woman screaming,” Maganedisa said.

John Killas, another parent who was attending the practice, said they realised what had happened only when Jack Cohen arrived at the soccer club, frantic.

“Jack told us he was busy talking to Sheldon on the phone, when Sheldon suddenly said something terrible is happening and the phone then went dead,” Killas said.

José Castel, a team-mate of Cohen’s son, Noah (17), at the Balfour Alexandra soccer club, was the first to find the blood-covered body in the car. “I tapped Noah’s dad on the shoulder and asked if he could hear me, but there was no response. His whole shirt was full of blood,” José told Beeld after counsellors had addressed the players and their parents last night.

Mark Abro, director of the club and coach of the under 19 side that was training that evening said Cohen always came to his son’s practices. “He was a fantastic person with a big heart and very generous.”

Cohen will be buried today on his 48th birthday.

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