Double life of friendly teacher with a big gun

Riot Hlatshwayo

Riot Hlatshwayo

Behind the facade of being a dedicated Christian and teacher, it appears Elone Sibuyi lived a double life.

Sibuyi allegedly tried to rob the Excel petrol station in Thulamahashe last month, wearing a balaclava and armed with a 9mm pistol. A security guard shot him but he ran for 150m before dying.

In an ironic twist, Duzephi Sibuyi [no relation], the headmaster of the school at which Elone Sibuyi taught, Soshangane Senior Secondary School in Mpumalanga, was at the garage during the robbery.

"I was filling up with petrol when the gunman opened fire. I was told there was a thug lying dead a few metres away but I didn't approach the scene.

"Little did I know that the dead man was one of my most popular and best teachers," said Sibuyi.

"If I had walked to where Elone lay I would have dropped dead from shock. He was too dedicated a teacher, and a devoted Christian, to do something like rob a garage.

"When we had a death at the school Elone was the one chosen to address the matter in a Christian way. Everybody, including the pupils, looked up to him," Sibuyi told Sowetan.

Yesterday it was Sibuyi's sad task to go from class to class to tell pupils that their popular teacher had died while robbing a petrol station.

"I had to let them know. The incident was broadcast on Radio Bushbuckridge after the shooting, but it seems only a few pupils heard the news on the radio."

He said some pupils were traumatised when they heard the news but the school wouldarrange counselling for them through the provincial department of education.

Sibuyi said his colleague was a friendly person and the only one at the school with a laptop computer. He managed last year's schedule for the school with the help of another teacher, Isaac Msimango.

"Elone loved music. He was a fan of Hugh Masekela, Jonas Ngwangwa, Sipho Gumede, Don Laka, Bhudaza and several African Afro-jazz maniacs," said Dorin Khumalo, a friend of the dead teacher.

Sibuyi joined Soshangane Senior Secondary in 2004.

Elone Sibuyi recently had the costly task of burying three members of his family, including his father, and might have been short of money, one source said.

But Sowetan was also told that Sibuyi was a high flyer, a party animal and lived large.