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Car gang kills football hero

The car-jacking epidemic afflicting South Africa has claimed the life of a national hero. Eliakim "Professor" Khumalo, 56, one of the country's football greats, was shot dead outside his home in Soweto on Tuesday during the theft of his car by four men.

Yesterday his son, Doctor Khumalo, a South African international who plays in the United States for the Columbus Crew, was flying home.

In Johannesburg there were 8,500 car hijacks in the past year. Drivers are usually forced from the road or ambushed in their driveways and outside their homes. Eliakim Khumalo was not the first to have been murdered in such an attack.

Khumalo, whose skill and intelligence earned him the nickname "The Pro" in the Sixties and Seventies, is believed to have been shot in the back by the men who stole his Volkswagen Jetta.

The former Moroka Swallows and Kaizer Chiefs star died soon afterwards in hospital. A woman caught driving the car in the city centre was being questioned by police last night.

Clarence Mlokoti, director of Kaizer Chiefs, for whom father and son both played, said yesterday that he was devastated by the death of "a perfect gentleman who would not hurt a fly". The club had been planning to honour him later this year.

In his time the Pro was regarded as one of the best full-backs in the country. When he died, Khumalo was head of the club's youth development programmes.

David Chabeli, the Moroka Swallows chairman, said that the murder highlighted the urgent need for the government to act against crime.

Yesterday the Soweto police commissioner, Victor Nolutshungu, condemned the murder as senseless and appealed to the community to join hands with the police in fighting crime.

But the public is growing increasingly frustrated with the authorities' inability to bring crime under control. Its anger erupted recently in Cape Town when a vigilante group publicly killed a local drug baron, Rashaad Staggie, leader of a gang called the Hard Livings, by shooting and setting fire to him.

It followed a shoot-out between the anti-drugs group and the gangsters which left 18 people wounded. While police claim some success in cutting crime, violent crime shows no sign of abating. Johannesburg's murder rate remains the highest in the world and is rising.

Section two, cover story