Phiri happy to be alive after robbery

Ex-Bafana Bafana player, now pub owner, Maimane Phiri was robbed. / MABUTI KALI
Ex-Bafana Bafana player, now pub owner, Maimane Phiri was robbed. / MABUTI KALI

Former Bafana Bafana and Moroka Swallows midfielder Alfred Maimane Phiri barely escaped with his life when gun-toting robbers attacked him at his pub and fled with his car.

Maimane told Sowetan that the robbery took place soon after he opened his pub in Alexandra, northern Johannesburg, yesterday morning.

"Two armed men came into the pub. One of them pointed a gun at me, demanded money and the location of the safe.

"I told them we don't keep money here but they were adamant until one of them saw the safe but there was nothing [in it]," he said.

Maimane said the gunmen took his white Mercedes-Benz and cellphones.

"They didn't get any money, they took expensive whisky bottles and I can't tell the amount but they were many. I had to trace my phones' locations to Kew and called the police on the suspects' whereabouts," he said.

Phiri's car was recovered in Kew, a suburb just next to Alexandra. He said he was grateful he was not hurt physically, despite the threats to kill him. His business partner Otto Gwambe said CCTV footage showed the suspects knew their target.

"Immediately after Phiri followed his staff inside the pub, the two men then followed him. They also took soccer kits and boots belonging to Maimane's team," he said.

Captain Ali Kodisang of Alexandra police confirmed a case of business robbery, and that police were looking for two suspects.

"It was a business robbery where the two men ordered the owner and his colleague to lie down. They searched the place before loading an undisclosed amount of alcohol into his car," Kodisang said, also confirming the car was later found abandoned in Kew.

In his long playing career, Phiri also played overseas in Turkey.

He is a folk hero in Alexandra, his hometown, where he contributes to social and youth development. He is also director of the annual Maimane Phiri Games.

The soccer tournament has grown significantly since its inception in 2001.