Gunmen descend on grieving family

'I played dead to escape gruesome murder'

Bonang Nyoka, 22, talks about how he escaped death during a gruesome attack that led to the murder of his three uncles in Wedela, Westonaria.
Bonang Nyoka, 22, talks about how he escaped death during a gruesome attack that led to the murder of his three uncles in Wedela, Westonaria.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

A young man has told of how he had to play dead to save his life during a brutal attack which claimed the lives of his three uncles, one of them a cop, just two days after his father died.

Bonang Nyoka, 22, said he had to pretend he was dead for about 15 minutes following the attack in which his uncles – Sgt Aaron Senyane, 44, Tshepo Senyane, 55, and former police reservist Mluleki Bartman, 22 – were shot and killed in Wedela, Westonaria, on Thursday night.

He and Aaron’s five-year-old son, who was also in the car – a state-owned vehicle – during the attack were unharmed.

Aaron, a detective who was attached to Wedela police station, was on standby during the attack and had been to the police station earlier that evening.

Nyoka said he and his uncles were preparing for his father Khotso Senyane’s funeral when they were ambushed. Khotso died in hospital on Tuesday, just two days before the deadly attack.

“We were approaching my uncle’s house when I saw a group of five men, three were sitting in a storm water drain and two were standing. The ones standing fired shots at our vehicle and shot our tyre,” Nyoka said.

“My uncle (Aaron) told us to lie low before he took out his gun and fired several shots. He tried to run to the back of the vehicle we were in but he was shot before he made it to the back,” he said.

Nyoka described how the armed assailants then surrounded their vehicle and shot his uncle in the head at close range.

He said he was sitting in the back with his other uncle, Tshepo Senyane, and the boy.

“They came and shot uncle Tshepo; his blood splattered on the white T-shirt I was wearing so I pretended to be dead,” he said.

He said he did not see how his third uncle was shot and killed.

“They dragged us out of the vehicle and searched us. I heard one of them saying that he received information that they just killed a cop and that they have killed the wrong people. While lying on the ground I then heard them running away,” he said.

Nyoka said he played dead for about 15 minutes to make sure that the gunmen had left the scene.

“I got up, took my uncle’s son and ran to seek help from the neighbours. I didn’t want to go home in case they followed us home,” he said.

Nyoka said he was still shaken by the attack because he was still coming to terms with his father’s death.

“It’s hard. My uncles died for nothing and while they were helping to make arrangements for my father’s funeral. I was still mourning my father when this happened,” he said.

Nyoka’s grandfather, Khayalakhe Nabiso, 68, told Sowetan that he felt as though a dark cloud was hanging over the family.

“Aaron was loved by everyone in this community and everyone relied on him. Even when he was not on duty people would still go to him and ask for assistance if something wrong happened,” Nabiso said.

Nabiso said Aaron was the “glue” that kept the family together.

“We are sad because he left three young children aged between three and five. The one who is five saw his father being shot so we are also worried about him,” he said.

Gauteng Hawks spokesperson Cpt Ndivhuwo Mulamu said seven suspects were arrested and were expected to appear in the Fochville magistrate’s court today on three charges of murder, attempted murder and illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

“The seven suspects were arrested in Westonaria and Rondebult, east of Johannesburg, in the early hours of Friday. Among other seized items, the investigation team confiscated two unlicensed firearms and ammunition,” Mulamu said.

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