By Robson Sharuko
MULTI-MILLIONAIRE businessman Simon Rudland, whose $5 million injection into Dynamos at the beginning of the year provided a kiss of life for the Glamour Boys, was shot and seriously wounded in an assassination attempt in Johannesburg on Wednesday morning.
Two assassins are reported to have pumped nine bullets into the car in which Rudland and his lawyer were travelling in, with the businessman being hit in the neck and rushed to hospital where, according to reports from South Africa, he remains in a critical condition.
In what is being described in the South African media as a hit, in a country and city with a shockingly high homicide rate, two men in a white Golf GTI pulled behind the car in which Rudland and his lawyer were in, parked outside the Fair Trade Tobacco Association offices in the plush Norwood area of Johannesburg.
CCTV images show the Porsche Boxster in which Rudland and his lawyer were travelling in, coming in to park in front of the FITA offices ahead of a scheduled meeting for members of the organisation.
Then, a white Golf GTI pulls behind the Porsche and shots are fired before the attackers drive off the scene.
The Porsche is then reversed and speeds away to hospital where Rudland, who is a member of FITA, was admitted and is said to be in a critical condition in the intensive care unit.
Rudland, with interests in tobacco through the Golden Leaf Tobacco and R&G cigarettes, the brand he used to tie a five-year sponsorship deal with Dynamos as the flagship sponsor of the country’s biggest football club, is considered one of the richest Zimbabweans.
His net worth, according to reports, is around US$98 million, while his brother Hamish is reported to be worth around US$250 million in a multi-millionaire league led by billionaire businessman Strive Masiyiwa, with an estimated US$2,5 billion.
Norton legislator Temba Mliswa, tweeted the news about the attack.
“Have just heard that Simon Rudland was nearly assassinated by some gunman in South Africa,’’ Mliswa, who had a short stint as Dynamos chairman and worked as a fitness coach for the Warriors and the Sables, tweeted.
“Grateful that he is now out of danger. Wish him speedy recovery, a good friend and brother.’’
FITA chairperson Sinenhlanhla Mnguni confirmed the shooting to News24 and other South African media outlets on Thursday.
“It comes as a shock to all of us,” Mnguni said. “At this stage police are investigating. This is something we take seriously.
“We have to allow Mr Rudland to recover.”
Mnguni said he was not aware of any threats Rudland could have received prior to the incident.
“Our priority now is to ensure that Mr Rudland is safe.”
FITA released a preliminary statement confirming, “the occurrence of an incident outside our offices yesterday. In this regard, FITA will issue a statement during the course of today.
“We further confirm that members of the SAPS attended at our offices for purposes of conducting their investigations and they were inter alia handed CCTV footage of the aforementioned incident.
“There will be no further comment on this issue for now and we ask that the SAPS be allowed to conduct their investigations.’’
Different South African media outlets reported that two assailants in the white Golf GTI waited in ambush at the offices of FITA in Norwood.
When Rudland and his lawyer arrived for a FITA meeting, nine shots were fired from handguns, targeting Rudland’s head area.
One bullet is said to have struck him in the neck.
This was corroborated by the images captured by CCTV.
The Citizen newspaper said footage of the shooting was sent to their offices yesterday.
“Simon Rudland, co-owner of the Gold Leaf Tobacco Corporation and a member of the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association, was seriously injured in an apparent assassination attempt in Johannesburg on Wednesday morning,’’ the newspaper said.
“The footage was sent to The Citizen on Thursday morning. You can see the Porsche Boxster Rudland was travelling in pull up and then the white VW Golf GTI with the suspects arrive behind him.
“After the shooting, he immediately made his way to hospital.’’
Rudland’s company came to Dynamos’ rescue at a time the Glamour Boys were facing a severe financial crisis with Rudland and George, a subsidiary of Gold Leaf Tobacco, unveiling the sponsorship package worth $1 million a year for five years and subject to an increase in the financial outlay.
Gold Leaf Tobacco Zimbabwe were represented by one of their executives, Lovejoy Bamala and Hannah Rudland, who is the company’s marketing and sales manager.
DeMbare chairman Isaiah Mupfurutsa described the sponsorship package as a momentous occasion in the history of the country’s biggest football club.
“We are confident Dynamos can reclaim its status as one of the best clubs on the continent.
“But to achieve that, Dynamos will need to reinvent itself and take a completely new trajectory,’’ Mupfurutsa said.
“Today we are glad to announce that DeMbare have found a big partner to walk with in this new journey. A journey that we believe will take us back to the African safari in the not too distant future.
“Dynamos have not won the Premier Soccer League title since 2014. We have now gone for four seasons without laying our hands on that important silverware.
“The 2018 season was one season that we will want to quickly forget.
“You all saw what happened before a timely intervention from the executive helped change things.
“Our millions of supporters are not happy with that statistic. We all know DeMbare fans are demanding because they believe their team should always be up there with the best.
“They believe Dynamos should always be winning the championship and they should be forgiven for that belief because DeMbare are indeed a football giant that should always maintain its dominance in the top-flight league.
“Thankfully, I can safely tell you tonight that Dynamos have started walking along the path of recovery.’’
DeMbare were sponsored by NetOne last season. The Herald