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Cape Town - The policeman who shot his girlfriend and two others at Cape Town International Airport – and then killed himself – was 33-year-old constable Bonginkosi Makaula, based at Mitchells Plain.
In the aftermath of Wednesday night’s shooting, Community Safety MEC Dan Plato has called for an urgent assessment of the “mental wellbeing” of super-stressed police members.
Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Andre Traut said on Thursday: “The name of the deceased officer is Bonginkosi Makaula. He was a constable stationed at Lentegeur police station where he performed visible policing duties.”
Two males staffers at an airport restaurant had surgery on Thursday to remove bullets from their bodies after Wednesday night’s dramatic shooting.
Makaula shot his girlfriend at the Ocean Basket restaurant on the mezzanine floor of the arrivals hall at Cape Town International Airport at about 6pm on Wednesday.
The woman was shot in the arm, and bullets also hit two fellow male waitrons before the constable turned his gun on himself.
The identities of the victims have not been released.
On Thursday, Nana Lloyd, spokeswoman for the chain, told the Cape Argus: “They are stable. Two male staff members are undergoing surgery to have bullets removed and the female staff member is stable.”
One of the male waiters was shot in the leg, the second in his buttocks.
The wounded woman was at Tygerberg hospital, while the two men were at Melomed Gatesville hospital.
“Counselling for all staff and patrons on the scene at the time of the incident is of key importance to us and is currently under way,” Lloyd said.
“We are further in discussion with the Airports Company of SA (Acsa) with regards to the importance of security at the airport moving forward.”
On Thursday, Plato said in a press statement: “I am concerned about the mental wellbeing of some of our police officers following another shooting tragedy involving a police officer, and will be asking the Western Cape police management how my department can be of assistance to promote mental wellbeing in the police. Also how we can sensitise police officers about the positive alternatives available to those facing emotional and psychological challenges.
“Following traumatic incidents, which are often experienced by police officers in their line of duty, they should receive mandatory counselling support to assist them in working through tough times and prepare them to return to duty with a positive and healthy mindset. Police suicides are of serious concern with more than 350 police officers in South Africa committing suicide between 2009 and 2012,” Plato said.
“I believe the SAPS are aware of the problem and have paid attention to it as can be seen by a statement that was issued by the SAPS in February this year. The statement urged police officers in need to make use of the service’s free 24/7 employee health and wellness programme.”
In response, the acting provincial police commissioner, Major-General Hendrik Burger, told the Cape Argus: “The wellbeing of our members is a top priority for the Western Cape police management and every endeavour is made to ensure that officials who require assistance are immediately attended to by our Employee, Health and Wellness Department.”
Plato’s spokesman, Greg Wagner, said Plato hoped to meet Western Cape police head General Arno Lamoer for an urgent meeting when he returned from leave.
Acsa spokeswoman Deidre Davids said “a full assessment of security systems at the airport” would begin immediately.
“We view this incident very seriously. Safety and security comes first – we will not hesitate to make any required improvements.”