Off-duty cop gunned down at home

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Edgar Tshidiso Mathope. Picture: Supplied

Johannesburg -

One minute Edgar Tshidiso Mathope was watching SABC soapie Muvhango with his family and the next minute he was on the floor, fighting for his life.

He had been shot in the head.

An unknown person pulled the trigger on the unsuspecting off-duty police officer inside the yard of his home in Meadowlands, Soweto, on Monday night.

“It was 9.15 and he was sitting watching TV with us. He went to fetch a cooldrink from the backroom outside,” said Mathope’s aunt Patricia Dire.

She said that seconds after the 40-year-old left the main house, they heard about five gunshots outside.

“I jumped from the sofa to stop the children from going outside. Initially we were worried he was using his gun, but after the shots, we heard a car speed off, and when we went outside (eventually), the gate was open,” said Dire.

Mathope’s uncle Tshepo Dire went outside and found the body of the Tactical Response Team (TRT) member on the floor of an outside room with a gunshot wound to the head.

He alerted the family, who went to seek the help of neighbours.

“The bleeding was so heavy. We put him in a car and took him to the hospital,” said Patricia Dire.

Tshepo Dire said doctors declared Mathope dead on arrival at the hospital.

“We didn’t hear a scream or anything when he was shot. The doctor said he most likely died on the scene because he had too much damage to the brain.”

Patricia Dire said she was surprised at her bravery when the family went outside after the shooting.

She had gathered the courage to call the neighbours and help the family calm down.

“He had asked us to make him food before he went to go fetch the cooldrink.

“We have lost a dear brother, it’s such a loss.”

She said Mathope had loved his job and was a great, boisterous character, always full of jokes, and loved children.

He had joined the police service in 2001 and moved on to the TRT in 2010, working with the Alexandra unit.

“He was due for more training. I don’t know what the way forward is.

“We did not ever expect anything like this to happen to him, especially at home,” she said.

The family are yet to confirm the funeral arrangements.

Mathope leaves behind a seven-month-old baby boy.

“Why must people who help the nation be killed?” asked a distraught Patricia Dire.

SAPS spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Lungile Dlamini said police were hunting for the suspects.

“The motive for the attack is still being investigated,” he said.

Mathope’s death comes after another TRT member was shot with his own firearm in Moffat View, Joburg, last week.

The constable later died in hospital.

Two suspects were arrested in connection with that case and are expected to appear on a charge of murder in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Friday.

mpiletso.motumi@inl.co.za

The Star


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