Durban - Civilians have been urged to defend KwaZulu-Natal traffic police against “vicious criminals” after the murder of a Road Traffic Inspectorate officer who had flagged down a motorist for speeding.
Mzwandile Dinga, 38, died on Monday night after being shot in the morning near KwaMashu.
The father of four from eMdloti and a colleague were carrying out speed enforcement on Dumisani Makhaye Highway when they stopped a motorist. The three occupants of the vehicle got out and held the officers at gunpoint before firing at Dinga, wounding him in the left arm and chest. They then disappeared from the scene.
Paramedics stabilised Dinga and placed him on a ventilator. He was taken to hospital, but died later.
As his devastated family mourns his death, calling also for the government to do more to protect traffic officers, acting Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo has called on communities to help.
Dhlomo, who said on Tuesday he was outraged by the shooting, was confident that the perpetrators of the “sordid act” would soon be caught.
“We are very disturbed by this callous murder of our traffic officer. It is painful now that our traffic officers are becoming a target for criminals,” he said. “We urge communities to defend our traffic officers against these vicious criminals.”
Dhlomo said Dinga was one of the province’s “most dedicated traffic officers who committed his life to promoting safety on our roads”.
He added: “I would like to call on all traffic officers to honour him by ensuring that nobody escapes with a transgression on our roads. On behalf of the government, I would like to send our deepest condolences to his family and colleagues.”
Dhlomo also urged the police to fast track their investigations to ensure that Dinga’s murderers were arrested.
The slain officer’s uncle, Siphelo Dinga, 62, said most of his family had been too distraught to talk about the “terrible loss”.
“The government must do something to protect our police, our traffic officers. These people put their lives in danger to make us safer. More must be done,” he told the Daily News.
He added that these attacks could no longer be tolerated and that criminals needed to be “severely punished”.
“He was a good man and we will all miss him. Everyone feels terrible, so hurt and sad,” he said.
Dinga leaves behind four children aged 16, 15, 14 and 8 and his wife of 11 years.
The 15-year-old is his only daughter.
“Throughout his 10 years of service in the inspectorate, he has never been shot or harmed in any way. That’s what makes this so hard to believe,” said the uncle, his voice trembling with emotion.
“He really loved his work and he was very good at it.”
The uncle said Mzwandile’s 64-year-old mother, who lives at the family home in Bizana in Eastern Cape, had been so shocked at the horrific news that she could not even speak.
“He was a very kind and responsible man. He was looking after his family and his mother,” Siphelo said.
“We have not yet finalised the funeral arrangements, but plan to do so soon. We might be having it in Bizana since that is his home.”
The uncle said Dinga had worked with him as a driving school instructor when he was younger.
“He had always been a hard worker in the family, always trying hard to do better for himself. He was also the breadwinner in his family.”
Dinga would have turned 39 in September.
Police spokesman, Captain Thulani Zwane, confirmed that the initial charge of attempted murder had been changed to that of murder.
A case of robbery had also been opened, because one of the assailants had stolen a firearm from Dinga, he said.
“Investigations are continuing and no suspects have been arrested.”
Dinga is not the only traffic officer to have been attacked in the line of duty.
In Cape Town earlier this month, a traffic officer was dragged behind a vehicle after trying to remove the car keys of a drag racer he had chased and stopped in Mitchell’s Plain.
Late last month, two traffic officers were shot and wounded in Heidelberg, Gauteng.
They had been chasing a vehicle when one of its occupants fired several shots at them with a rifle.