Simon Rudland, co-owner of Gold Leaf Tobacco Corporation and member of Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (FITA), was seriously injured in an apparent assassination attempt in Johannesburg on Wednesday morning.
FITA chairperson Sinenhlanhla Mnguni confirmed the shooting to News24 on Thursday.
According to information supplied to News24 by a credible source, two assailants in a white car waited at the offices of FITA in Norwood, Johannesburg. As Rudland and his lawyer arrived for a FITA meeting, one man fired nine shots with a handgun to Rudland's head area. One bullet struck him in the neck. He has since been hospitalised and is being kept in intensive care. The source said the suspects have been identified by way of CCTV.
"It comes as a shock to all of us," Mnguni said. "At this stage police are investigating. This is something we take seriously."
Mnguni said Rudland has not yet been able to communicate as to what exactly happened. He said he would speak to Rudland during the course of Thursday morning.
"We have to allow Mr Rudland to recover."
Mnguni said he was not aware of any threats that Rudland may have received prior to the incident. "Our priority now is to ensure that Mr Rudland is safe."
Police spokesperson Captain Kay Makhubele could not immediately supply any information regarding the incident. He told News24 he would follow up with the relevant police station.
Last year, City Press reported that about 26.8% of all cigarettes sold in South Africa were "illicit" and that this trade was dominated by one local company: Gold Leaf Tobacco.
Its directors are Johannesburg-based Ebrahim Ahmed Adamjee and Rudland, who is a Zimbabwean.
This is a developing story.
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