Solly Tyibilika, the first black player to score a test try for the South African national rugby team, has been shot dead in a tavern in Cape Town.

"Two unidentified males, both carrying firearms, entered the premises and randomly shot at the patrons," police spokesman Frederick van Wyk said.

He said Tyibilika, 32, was hit several times and killed. Two other victims were injured and taken to hospital.

The shooting happened at a bar in Gugulethu township, a poor neighbourhood on the outskirts of Cape Town. Police do not know the motive for the shooting and are looking for the two suspects, Van Wyk said.

The South African Rugby Union said it was shocked at the news.

"Solly was a trailblazer among black African Springboks," Oregan Hoskins, the union's president, said in a statement.

"To lose him so suddenly and in this brutal manner is very distressing."

A witness said the killing bore the marks of a hit.

"One of them came to me and told me to move to the side," the local resident told the Daily Voice.

"This was not a robbery because they left all the other patrons alive and killed him."

Mr Tyibilika had been arrested recently on a weapons charge.

Local media reports said he and two friends had been driving in Gugulethu with their headlights off when police stopped the car and found a semi-automatic gun in the glove compartment.

He and his two co-accused were released on 800 rand (€73) bail on 19 October and were set to return to court next year.

Mr Tyibilika made his professional debut for Griquas in 2001 before moving to the Lions, the Sharks and the Border Bulldogs.

He made his test debut in 2004 against Scotland in Edinburgh, scoring a milestone try that felled a racial barrier in a sport long considered the exclusive domain of South Africa's white population.

He played eight tests in all, scoring three tries in a career that stumbled after a promising start, but which he had been trying to revive.

Under South African apartheid law, 'Black' people were placed in a different category from Asian and 'Coloured' people.

The first 'Coloured' rugby player to score a try was Chester Williams.

All four terms were capitalised in apartheid-era law.