Rags to riches Durban businessman Max Mqadi dodges death
Max Mqadi's rags to riches story almost ended in tragedy when the Durban businessman escaped death in an assassination attempt outside his renowned establishment in Umlazi, south of Durban, this week.
The 51-year-old owner of Max's Lifestyle, named among 207 of the best restaurants in the world in 2016, was shot by two unknown men at close range outside his establishment on Thursday evening.
Police spokesperson Col Thembeka Mbele said Mqadi had climbed into his white Mercedes and was about to turn left onto Sibusiso Madekane Road when an unknown male suspect crossed the road and approached the left side of the vehicle.
“He opened fire on him (Mqadi) with a 9mm firearm. Another male suspect approached from his right side. The suspect that came from across the road, fired a number of shots at him, injuring only his arm and leg.”
Mqadi managed to drive to Durban's popular Florida Road where he flagged down police and received ambulance assistance before being rushed to Netcare Umhlanga Hospital, where he remains in a stable condition.
Pictures of the interior of Mqadi's bloodstained Mercedes and a bullet stuck in the back of his iPhone 12 made the rounds on social media soon after the shooting — with many under the impression his life had been saved by his iPhone.
The incident has been shrouded in secrecy.
Staff at Max's Lifestyle remained mum on what unfolded on the night of the shooting.
Sources close to Mqadi said over the years he had made a lot of enemies.
“He's been involved in a lot of business dealings. It would be difficult to say who would have wanted him dead. The only person who can really answer that is Max himself,” said one source.
Another said his ties with the ANC could have made him a political target.
“Max has been close to the ANC for a long time. He often hosts ANC functions and it is not uncommon to see politicians or people of political prominence dining at his place.”
Despite Mqadi's close political circle, he did not attain his success overnight.
From a one-room shack near a stream built in front of a taxi rank in 2002, Mqadi grew his shisa nnyama into one of Durban's most popular hangouts.
KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala called on police to move quickly on the case of attempted murder.
“We wish Mr Mqadi a speedy recovery, but most importantly we look forward to those behind this heinous act being brought to book. We will be watching the developments around this case very closely,” said Zikalala.