Oupa Gqozo 'critical'

2001-06-15 18:53

East London - Former Ciskei military leader Brigadier Oupa Gqozo and prominent Middledrift traditional healer Keke "Gonondo" Mama were both unconscious on Friday night and were fighting for their lives in East London hospitals.

Gqozo, in the Frere Hospital, and Mama, in the Cecilia Makiwane Hospital, were shot in Mama's consulting rooms in the Cildara Administrative area near Middledrift on Wednesday evening.

Police suspect the motive for the shooting was either robbery or revenge and do not believe the incident was politically motivated.

A suspect was apprehended by one of Mama's employees and savagely mauled by 19 of Mama's dogs and then beaten to death by four employees with bottles and broomsticks.

Gqozo was rushed to Cecilia Makiwane Hospital with bullet wounds to the head, neck and chest and was later transferred to the ICU at Frere Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery on Thursday evening.

Department of Health spokesperson Mahlubandile Mageda said on Friday that Gqozo had lapsed into a coma and was in a critical condition, fighting for his life.

Cecilia Makiwane Hospital chief medical superintendent, Dr Zamani Ndidwa, said Mama was also admitted to the hospital's ICU on Friday when he lapsed into a coma after been admitted in a stable condition.

Ndidwa said Mama had a bullet lodged in his neck close to the spinal chord and his limbs were partly paralysed. "I am afraid he may be permanently paralysed and the next 24 hours will be crucial," he said.

Gqozo's wife Corinthian Gqozo said she was disturbed about the manner in which she and her family learned about the shooting incident.

"I was informed at my home by a relative who heard the news on the radio. I find this very distasteful because as far as normal procedure goes the next-of-kin should be informed before someone's name is used in the electronic or print media under these circumstances."

She said in this instance this procedure had apparently not been followed and it had come as a great shock to the family to hear the news "second-hand".

As to why Gqozo was visiting Mama, Mrs Gqozo said she could not confirm reports by one of Mama's employees that her husband had been employed as a personal bodyguard to Mama.

She said as far as she was aware her husband had gone to visit Mama at his premises and they may have discussed security issues.

"Maybe there were developments between the two of them and it is possible that they may have come to some kind of agreement with regards to this matter.

"I am, however, not aware of it as my husband was shot before he could discuss the matter with me."

Mrs Gqozo also distanced herself from a statement by safety and security MEC Dennis Neer that her husband's shooting was taxi-related, saying there was "no truth in it at all".