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Last Updated: Monday, 5 April, 2004, 12:33 GMT 13:33 UK
South Africa music star shot dead
Gito Baloi courtesy Sheer Sound South Africa
Baloi was known for his eclectic and innovative style
One of Southern Africa's most famous musicians has been shot dead in Johannesburg city centre, in an apparent robbery.

Gito Baloi, a bass guitarist originally from Mozambique, lived and performed in South Africa for many years.

His murder comes one week before a general election, in which South Africa's high crime rate is an important issue.

About 20,000 people are murdered in South Africa each year.

Wallet stolen

Gito Baloi, 39, was driving home from a gig in Pretoria when he was attacked.

Eyewitnesses say he was shot three times through the window of his car by two men as he dropped off a friend in central Johannesburg.

Mr Baloi managed to stagger away from his car, before he collapsed and died. The murderers took his wallet.

But while the motive appeared to be robbery, his musical equipment was left at the scene.

The bass guitarist's musical career had a humble beginning, as he performed his first live gigs with a borrowed instrument in his native Mozambique.

His innovative sound reached South Africa during a 1986 tour.

He became co-founder of the band Tananas, famous in South Africa for its eclectic contemporary jazz styles.

He also released several solo albums and formed his own band in the late 1990s.

Soweto killing

The BBC's Barnaby Phillips in Johannesburg says authorities in the city have put considerable efforts into reducing crime in the notorious city centre.

But this brutal killing of one of Southern Africa's most respected musicians shows that there is still much to be done, he says.

This is the second killing of a high profile musician in Johannesburg this year - in February the lead singer of the band Mafikizolo, popular with young black people, was shot in Soweto in a road-rage incident.

South Africans go to the polls next week; and violent crime is once again an important issue.

The governing ANC says that crime has stabilised and the largest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, has promised to put tens of thousands of extra policemen on the streets.

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