A young woman who went to the Moot police station for protection was fatally shot in the charge office by her ex-boyfriend, a policeman at the same station.
Tsholanang Kgaladi, 23, wanted to collect her clothes from the flat of Constable Vutivi Mabunda, 24, but was too scared to go alone and wanted one of his colleagues to accompany her.
Provincial duty officer Lieutenant Colonel Tshisikhwawe Ndou said: “As far as we know, Kgaladi called the station to request the assistance of a police officer to help her retrieve her clothing and belongings from Mabunda’s home.
“She was then taken to the police station, and Mabunda, whose shift ended at 6am, was called to the station. It (seems) Mabunda, while discussing the dispute with fellow officers, drew his service pistol and shot Kgaladi and then turned the gun on himself,” Ndou said.
Kgaladi was rushed to Eugene Marais Hospital but was declared dead on arrival. Mabunda died at the scene.
Outside the station, an eyewitness, with a baby on the car seat next to her, was sobbing while being consoled by a friend. Her friend told the Pretoria News she had been inside the station when the shooting occurred and was too traumatised to speak.
Ndou said police officers who were present during the shooting were traumatised and were receiving counselling. He said no one else was injured.
It was alleged that Kgaladi was shot five times, but Ndou said he could not comment on that as it could compromise the investigation. He said a murder and inquest docket had been opened.
He did not know if Kgaladi had a protection order against Mabunda.
“There was no evidence to suggest he was having any problems. This was a very gruesome and sad incident, and we advise all members who are experiencing any problems to consult the various pastors, social workers and psychologists available to them,” Ndou said.
The police station was closed for the day, but police officers from neighbouring stations erected a temporary desk in the courtyard to assist the public with certification of documents and opening of cases.
A lawyer, Tosin Adeyinka, said he was on his way to consult five of his clients who were due to appear in court today.
“As I walked into the station’s yard after locking my car I just heard ‘pa’, ‘pa’ and ran for cover. Somehow I knew it was gunshots. Moments later, several people came out running,” he said.
Mapule Shilaloke, who planned to visit her brother in-law in the holding cells, said she was about to enter the station when she heard two shots.
“I had to stand back as people came rushing out.”
Monday’s shooting is one of a growing number of cases of police officers killing their partners.
On New Year’s Eve, a policeman stationed at the Garsfontein police station shot dead his wife and baby son before killing himself. He also shot his daughter, who survived the ordeal.
In March last year, a police reservist went on a shooting rampage at the Akasia police station, killing his girlfriend and seriously wounding a pensioner before turning the gun on colleagues and then shooting himself.
It is understood that the reservist, a Constable Mehlape, was enraged that his girlfriend, reservist Constable Kgomotso Mathibe, had ended their five-year relationship shortly before and had filed a complaint of intimidation against him.
In March last year, an Akasia reservist, a Constable Mehlape, gunned down his girlfriend, reservist Constable Kgomotso Mathibe, before killing himself after a heated argument.
Although he could not supply figures, Dr Johan Burger, senior researcher of the crime and justice programme at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), said the number of cop killings had increased over the past year.
He said there were many aspects which contributed to such irrational behaviour by police officers.
Burger said one of the main contributing factors was the stressful environment officers had to face every day.
“Crime is a major problem in our country and the public is constantly looking at police officers to alleviate the problem.
“More than a 100 police officers are killed per year, and they go to work every day knowing that it could be their last day,” Burger said.
He said police officers were also constantly exposed to violence and often saw gruesome scenes which affected them in the long run.
“A large contributing factor is also that the police force grew by 60 000 members in the past 10 years, and many of the officers who carry a gun are not trained properly to do so.
“Police commanders should also be trained to recognise the signs of distress and treat the cause before it becomes a problem, “ Burger said.