Lansdowne police say they are investigating all possibilities around the death of Shaheed Omar, the nephew of late ANC stalwart Dullah Omar.
Mr Omar, 44, was shot and killed in what looks like an attempted hijacking on Thursday August 10, on the corner of Govan Mbeki Road and Jan Smuts Drive, near Lansdowne.
His 74-year-old mother, Zubaida Omar, was in the car with him at the time.
The mother-and-son were on their way home to Rylands, after having visited Ms Omar’s brother in Grassy Park.
The family expressed their shock at what they described as a “senseless killing” over the weekend, saying he was killed even after he told the gunmen to take his car, and begging them not to harm his mother. Nothing was taken.
It wasn’t long before questions arose about the timing of Mr Omar’s killing.
There has been speculation it might have been politically motivated, since he was killed shortly after the Omar family asked that Dullah Omar’s name not be associated with a Western Cape ANC region named after him.
They also did not want the name linked to a march by a group of supporters of President Jacob Zuma, ahead of the motion of no confidence in Parliament on Tuesday August 8.
Lansdowne SAPS spokesperson Sergeant Nkululeko Mnyaka said at this stage the motive for the killing was a mystery.
“We are investigating all possibilities. We don’t know the motive. It is nothing for us to believe it is politically motivated, but we cannot speculate on that,” Sergeant Mnyaka said.
ANC provincial spokesman Lionel Adendorf said the incident was nothing more than a criminal act.
“We (the ANC) are not the only ones who said that the incident is not politically motivated. The family themselves said so.
“We need to see things for what they are. It’s a criminal act. Once you know who the culprits are, then the investigation can determine the possible motive behind it. I would not want to speculate,” Mr Adendorf said.
Dullah Omar’s sister, Latifa Omar, said the family “firmly believes that it is not politically-motivated”.
“If it had been”, she said, “why choose that brother’s son, and not our late brother’s son?
“The Dullah Omar region also came out to say that no one from the ANC did this, and we believe them.”
Asked whether the family had received threats since going public about asking the ANC to dissociate Dullah Omar’s name from the region, she said: “Here and there were a few adverse comments on social media – mostly from the pro-Zuma camp – but, generally, we received messages of support from far and wide. Many said we were brave to say what others only think.”
Ms Omar said her nephew, who leaves his wife and an 11-year-old daughter, was tall and handsome, always smiling, gentle and kind-hearted.
“He was popular among the young and old in our family, and he was much-loved by his friends and colleagues.”
When Athlone News asked Mr Adendorf what steps would be taken, if at all, to comply with the Omar family’s request to dissociate Dullah Omar’s name from the region, he said he could not comment on that.
“The family did not write a letter to the provincial executive committee (PEC). They wrote a letter to the National Executive Committee (NEC).
“The matter has not been referred to the PEC from the NEC, therefore it is not on our reel to comment on it.”
The Athlone News tried to contact ANC national spokesman Zizi Kodwa but his cellphone had been switched off.
Meanwhile, messages of sympathy and support for the Omar family poured in from all over the country, including one from the Congress of the People (COPE) that said: “Cope calls on the police to speedily conclude its investigation into the circumstances surrounding this tragedy, given recent events relating to the family of the late struggle veteran Dullah Omar and the ANC.”