Husband too distraught to aid probe of S Africa murder

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 March, 2007, 12:00am

More than a week after the murder of a Hong Kong businesswoman in a botched robbery in South Africa, her husband is still too devastated by her death to talk to police about her death.

Tsang Chuen-tia, 41, was driving through Katlehong, a sprawling township that is home to mostly poor, unemployed blacks to the east of Johannesburg, when she was attacked.

'Three young men tried to get the lady to hand over money when she stopped her car at a traffic light,' said Hui Yang, who works at the Chinese embassy in Pretoria and who went to the crime scene shortly after the killing on February 22.

'She refused and when she drove away five shots were fired at her. One of the bullets struck her in the breast. She died on the way to hospital.'

Mr Hui said: 'The husband of the lady who died has not been able to speak to the police. He is too distraught to talk to anyone. We are standing by to offer any assistance we can.'

Tsang had lived in the country for many years and ran a boutique.

Mr Hui said Tsang's maid was in the car at the time and gave a statement shortly after her employer's death. She described the terror at the sudden appearance of three young men at a car window, the brandishing of a gun, the attempted escape and its fatal consequences. The attackers fled without taking anything.

Tsang held a Hong Kong identity card but was also a South African citizen.

Katlehong is a tough town that serves the industrial city of Germiston, site of the world's largest gold refinery. In spite of the nearby wealth, most of its 700,000 inhabitants are jobless and live in tiny brick houses or tin shanties.

Many are migrant workers from the rural hinterlands who descend on the city in search of work, money and security. Instead, they encounter disappointment and grinding poverty and for some, crime appears to be a way out.

For police, Katlehong is difficult to secure.

'We are investigating this intensively, but so far we do not have any suspects,' said Captain Jethro Mtshali, the regional police spokesman.

Attacks on members of the Chinese community in Johannesburg have increased over the past few years, but officials say this reflects the growing size of the community itself, now close to 300,000 by some counts, rather than Chinese people being singled out.

South Africa is one of the most violent countries in the world, with more than 18,500 murders last year, according to police statistics.