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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 December 2006, 19:10 GMT
SA celebrity murdered in robbery
Map of southern Africa
One of South Africa's best known theatre personalities, Taliep Petersen, has been shot and killed during a robbery at his home.

Armed men broke into his home in the Cape Town suburb of Athlone, tied him up and shot him in the neck.

Mr Petersen, 56, directed and produced many musicals, including District Six, Kat and the Kings, and Ghoema.

South Africa has one of the world's highest murder rates, with more than 18,000 killings a year.

He was able to capture our entire history, express our deepest pain, articulate our joy
Ebrahim Rasool
Western Cape province leader

Armed men shot Mr Petersen at his home after robbing six other family members of mobile phones and locking them in their bedrooms, the South African Press Association (Sapa) said.

The assailants then took Mr Petersen to the living room where they shot him and escaped with his phone, cash and electronic equipment, Sapa said.

The murder will prompt calls for the South African government to do more to fight crime, says the BBC's Will Ross, in Johannesburg.

Earlier this year, Nobel Prize winner Desmond Tutu warned that South Africa was losing its "moral direction" and sense of respect for human lives.

Olivier awards

Together with his artistic partner David Kramer, Mr Petersen produced a string of hit productions, some of which have been staged internationally in New York, Los Angeles and London.

I come from a hard space in time, remember - I'm a proud child of District Six
Taliep Petersen
One of the pair's most successful musicals, District Six, tells the story of a once-vibrant multicultural neighbourhood in pre-apartheid Cape Town.

It was declared a white-only area in 1965 and razed to the ground, forcing more than 60,000 people to leave their homes.

Mr Petersen also won two Olivier awards for Kat and the Kings.

Set in 1957, also in District Six, the show tells the story of a Cape Town vocal harmony group.

Hard work

The high-profile murder was greeted with shock around South Africa.

Ebrahim Rasool, premier of Mr Petersen's native Western Cape province, paid tribute to the director, calling him "one of the great gifts of our community to the nation".

"He was able to capture our entire history, express our deepest pain, articulate our joy, and demonstrate our humanity through music and drama," Mr Rasool said in a statement.

He was still working when he was murdered, appearing as a judge on the Afrikaans version of the TV talent show Idols.

"I'm a workaholic, involved in a zillion things. I come from a hard space in time, remember - I'm a proud child of District Six," Mr Petersen said in a 2005 interview with a South African newspaper.

"I played in white clubs and had to enter through the back door, and I wasn't allowed to mingle with the crowd."

'Powder keg' in S Africa - Tutu
07 Oct 06 |  Africa
Country profile: South Africa
20 Sep 06 |  Country profiles


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