One of the seven men accused of the brutal murder of Andile ‘Bobo’ Mbuthu, who was beaten to death for allegedly stealing alcohol during the lockdown in Tongaat last year, has been shot dead on Thursday morning.

Mlungisi Thabethe, 26, who was the owner of the Magagula’s Lounge from which Mbuthu had allegedly stolen alcohol, was one of the seven murder accused in the murder case.

Thabethe was shot dead last week while driving in his VW Polo.

Thabethe, who also ran his family’s taxi business, was released on bail after he approached the Durban High Court in September last year. The Verulam Magistrate’s Court had denied him bail after he allegedly intimidated witnesses in the Mbuthu murder case.

It is suspected that his death may be linked with the taxi industry.

“It’s true, Mlu (Thabethe) has been killed, he was shot dead at about 9am this morning,” a member of the community told IOL on Thursday morning.

“He was shot in his VW Polo. We hear he was trying to escape, but he couldn’t get away, they killed him,” he said.

A police officer at the Tongaat Police Station confirmed Thabethe was shot dead at Gopalall Hurbans Road, Tongaat.

The murder scene was attended by IPSS Medical Rescue paramedics.

“On arrival of paramedics, it was established that the single occupant of a vehicle had sustained multiple high-caliber rifle gunshot wounds to their body.

“The person was declared dead on scene. It is alleged that the shooting has ties to the taxi industry,” IPSS Medical Rescue spokesperson Paul Herbst said.

Another source said Thabethe had been running his family taxi business, which had a fleet of about eight minibus taxis, since the shisanyama business seized to operate after the community backlash surrounding Mbuthu’s murder.

The death of Mbuthu angered many South Africans at the time and there were calls for #JusticeForBobo that reverberated on social media at the time as many watched the helpless matric pupil lying in a pool of blood after being beaten.

In the video, which was allegedly taken in a room at the shisanyama, a man was seen pushing a badly bruised and injured Mbuthu with his leg, before ordering him to clean up his own blood.

After the video emerged, Mbuthu’s family approached the owners of the shisanyama, who told them that Mbuthu had escaped.

Police launched a search for the missing 16-year-old and he was eventually found dumped in a river near the area.

The seven men were arrested soon after and charged with kidnapping and murder.

The other men charged alongside Thabethe, were Andile Nhleko, 27, Mncedisi Mzobe, 27, Siyanda Msweli, 26, Lindani Ndlovu, 26, and Malusi Mthembu, 27 and a minor, 16, who cannot be named.

IOL has sent questions to the police in KZN for official comment around the murder. They had not responded at the time of publishing. This story will be updated when they respond.