Alleged rhino poaching kingpin Sydney Petros Mabuza was gunned down in Hazyview, Mpumalanga, on Thursday afternoon.
His car, a Ford Ranger, was found riddled with 17 bullet holes.
Mabuza, who was known as Mshengu and Mr Big in the community, was facing a number of charges, including rhino poaching and murder.
He was out on R200,000 bail for rhino poaching following his arrest in eMalahleni in 2019.
Provincial police spokesperson Brig Leonard Hlathi confirmed that Mabuza was killed.
“We are calling for the community of Hazyview to help us locate the suspects responsible for the fatal shooting, which is clearly a hit. The man was shot in broad daylight in town, in front of people, and we believe people have seen and know the wanted suspects. We call on the public to contact the police anonymously,” said Hlathi.
In footage that surfaced on social media, the bakkie is seen parked on the side of the road, next to it a black vehicle.
Several people are seen opening the bakkie’s doors as the black car drives off and makes a U-turn.
A number of men also come from the front passenger side and hop into the black vehicle before driving away.
In the footage, one can hear people screaming.
“We do not want to speculate if this was gang related or not but the investigation is going to lead us,” said Hlathi.
Hawks spokesperson in the Province Cpt Dineo Sekgotodi Said as the hawks dealing with cases of Mabuza they have come to know that he was shot dead on Thursday but that will not hinder their investigation as they have other suspects on the cases.
“We have got the news that one of the suspects in the rhino horn cases have been killed. But as we speak he was facing charges along other accused which means our investigation will not stop. There are other cases we are investigating around that and if his Murder was part of his crew hiding information we will know as the investigation progresses,” Said Sekgotodi.
In the case of the murder charge Mabuza faced, he and another three people allegedly conspired to murder a man who owed him money and then dumped his body in a river in Bushbuckridge.
Hlathi urged anyone with information to contact the police hotline 0800-010-111 or visit any nearest police station.