Tycoon dumped in river

THE murder of a prominent KwaZulu-Natal businessman has shocked the country’s business and political elite.

Nhlanhla Gasa’s body was found floating in the Tugela River on Tuesday with multiple stab wounds.

Gasa (63) was stabbed to death in his upmarket Umhlanga home in the early hours of Tuesday morning, his body bundled into his luxury car and then thrown off the John Ross bridge near Stanger.

His car was burnt beyond recognition.

Gasa’s daughter, Noni, a model and former television presenter, told The Witness yesterday: “I’m haunted by the thoughts of his last moments.”

The police were constantly at the Gasa home and the family had not had proper time to grieve, she said.

“No words can describe what we’re going through. It’s difficult to comprehend the pain of losing a father, let alone the pain of losing him in this most gruesome way. Our family asks that you respect our privacy in this time of grief. We’re all just trying to work through the deep shock and trauma one day at a time.”

Police said Stanger residents found Gasa’s body at about 6 am.

Louis Seeco, a family spokesperson, said the family in Durban was told of Gasa’s death later on Tuesday.

“They needed to bring the rest of the family to one place because they couldn’t tell them over the phone. People started gathering at the home yesterday.”

Asked whether the delay in making the tycoon’s murder public had anything to do with avoiding negative publicity during the Brics summit, Seeco said: “No, no, no. It had nothing to do with that.”

Police said Gasa was killed in his Umhlanga home just after midnight on Tuesday, and his body was dumped in the Tugela River. His Jaguar was found metres from where his body was discovered.

Sapa reports that police officers then went to his home in Umhlanga and found blood around the house.

“This confirms that the attack started at his house and he was then taken to the river,” said spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Vincent Mdunge.

No valuables were taken. “The motive of the killing is unknown at this stage.

“Durban North SAPS are investigating a case of murder and no arrests have been made,” said Mdunge.

Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Andrew Layman described Gasa’s death as a tragedy.

“For a prominent businessperson and clearly a business leader to go in such an untimely and tragic fashion is sad. From the Durban business chamber we would like to pass our condolences to the family for their loss.”

Premier Zweli Mkhize’s spokesperson, Ndabezinhle Sibiya, said the premier was deeply saddened by Gasa’s death.

Gasa was “a committed son of the soil” and would be remembered for the roles that he played at Umgeni Water, where he was chairperson.

“He championed the course of provision of water and sanitation and would be remembered for that,” said Sibiya.

Businessman and Greytown Mayor Philani Mavundla said Gasa’s death was “a sad and sensitive matter”.

He described Gasa as an astute businessman. “He was already established and successful before black economic empowerment started. At one point he was at the KZN Gaming Board and [on the board of] Umgeni Water, and I served with him at Rainbow Construction, where he was a chairman.”

Gasa was also the chairperson of the boards of Absa in KZN, Umgeni Water and Sambulo. He is named as a director and chairperson in a profile of the Digicore Holdings Limited remuneration committee. He had previously worked for the Tongaat Hulett Group and Transnet.

• A memorial service will be held on April 3 at the St Faith’s Anglican Church, 80 Carlisle Street, Durban (next to the Greyville Racecourse).

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