29/01/2008 23:09 - (SA)
Annelene Moses and Francois du Plessis, Beeld
Johannesburg - The armed men who shot and killed a well-known businessman in cold blood at his son's soccer practice probably thought he was calling the police on his cellphone.
They had tried to rob a woman at the soccer practice shortly before shooting dead Sheldon Cohen, 47.
But, Sheldon, former CEO of electronic equipment group Amalgamated Appliances (Amaps), was speaking to his father, Jack, the non-executive chairperson of the group.
Police spokesperson Phillip Maganedisa said that moments before killing Sheldon, the three men had tried to rob another parent of her cellphone.
Jos Miller, who was waiting for her son, Dean, told Beeld on Tuesday night that one of the three robbers tried to force her car door open and ordered her to hand over her cellphone.
"I started screaming after he hit me and then just heard a loud 'pop' sound," said Miller.
She immediately jumped out of her car and ran towards the other parents who were watching the practice.
Maganedisa said that in their attempt to get away, the attackers apparently saw Cohen speaking on his cellphone in his blue Toyota Rav4 three cars further along.
They fired a shot, hitting him in the neck. He died at the soccer field.
Frantic father arrived
Maganedisa said: "His windows were closed, the radio was apparently playing in his vehicle, and he possibly hadn't even heard the woman screaming."
John Killas, another parent who was at the practice, said they realised what had happened only when Jack Cohen arrived at the soccer club in a frantic state.
Killas said: "Jack told us he had been talking to his son on the phone, when Sheldon suddenly said something terrible was happening and the phone then went dead."
José Castel, a team-mate of Sheldon's son, Noah, 17, was the first to find the blood-covered body in the car.
José told Beeld: "I tapped Noah's dad on the shoulder and asked if he could hear me, but there was no response. His whole shirt was full of blood."
Mark Abro, director of the club and coach of the Under-19 side that was training that evening, said Sheldon always came to his son's practices.
"He was a fantastic person with a big heart and very generous."