Special Report | Security guards in the firing line
Luyanda Mchunu was unaware of the dangers of his job as a security guard until gunmen stormed the Springs magistrate's court on the East Rand one early afternoon in December 2019.
Armed with AK47 assault rifles, the group of men had one goal – to help their associates, fingered as hitmen in a case in which black widow Nonhlanhla Matiwane hired them to kill her husband for a more than R1.2m life insurance payout, escape.
Two women sat quietly in a small four-room house in the bustling township of Sebokeng in the Vaal, south of Johannesburg.
They are both grieving; one lost her husband and the other her brother.
Itumeleng Mokoena had been married to Moqadi Mokoena for five years when he and his colleague, Elvis Motaung, were mowed down by machine gun-wielding copper cable thieves while on duty on the night of May 14.
Silence hangs on the telephone line as Sifiso Mokoena recalls how he escaped death during an attack that claimed the lives of his cousin and a colleague.
Mokoena, his cousin Moqadi Mokoena and colleague Elvis Motaung, were attacked by 'izinyoka', as cable thieves are known as, while on duty at Verref power substation in Vereeniging on May 14.
The fear of leaving home and not knowing whether he will ever see his family again has gripped security guard Leonard Jones*.
Jones works for a company which he asked Sowetan not to name, saying their mandate was to provide security to trucking companies that have come under siege since last year, the height of attacks on truck drivers. Attackers mainly targeted foreign nationals, accusing them of stealing their jobs.
While security guards deal with organised syndicates, increasing the risk they face on the job, it is up to their employers to assess threats they face and put measures in place to deal with those.
Vhutshilo Mudau finished his shift as a security guard at one of the big retailers in Meadowdale, Germiston, on the East Rand, at 6am when he met up with Sowetan.
Instead of going home to sleep, he went straight to his side hustle of selling socks to make extra cash.
This “side job” gives him R500 a month. It may seem too little but to Mudau, 37, it makes a huge difference to his life.
One of the deepest fears harboured by security guard Sipho Mcenjana became reality when he and his colleagues were ambushed, tied up and robbed on duty.
Mcenjana said a group of about 15 heavily armed men pounced on them in search of copper cables at Afromax, a company that manufactures bricks on the outskirts of Vereeniging, in the Vaal, last week.