Cape Town - It was a solemn moment for a six-year-old. Little Liso Khaka was in the New Apostolic Church in Nyanga with his granny, aunts and uncles. His mother was in hospital, having given birth to his baby brother on Tuesday, and his father was newly dead.
People had gathered to say farewell at a memorial service for Constable Monwabisi Shadrake Khaka, 33, and Sergeant Sibongile Ngcawuzele, 37, who had been gunned down in Nyanga on June 30. Another officer, Sergeant Theophilus Xolisa Mlindwa, 41, was shot dead that same day while off duty in Mfuleni. He served in Gugulethu.
Liso reached for a service pamphlet from his aunt Andiswa Ngono. He stared at his father’s photo on the front page, then put his head on his aunt’s lap and fell asleep. The fact that he and his three siblings, including his two-day-old baby brother, would grow up without a father was too big a thought to grasp - for now.
But while Liso might have been overwhelmed, other people at the service felt raw grief and anger.
Provincial police commissioner Arno Lamoer told the congregation that police killings were higher in the Western Cape than in any other province. But this would not stop officers from doing their jobs.
“Every month since the start of the year I have been standing at memorial services. When will this stop?”
Lamoer later thanked the families of the bereaved for “lending their sons to protect and serve the community”.
While Ngcawuzele had served 12 years as a police officer, Khaka joined the force in 2011 and completed his training at Philippi Police College in 2013.
Community Safety MEC Dan Plato said their deaths were a huge loss to the community and the police.
“I think the time of just talking at every funeral is over and it is time to find a solution. A meeting between Premier Helen Zille and police commissioner Lamoer will take place (on Wednesday) to discuss the killings of police. We mourn the loss… and will bring justice to those responsible.”
Lindiwe Ngcawuzele, Sergeant Ngcawuzele’s aunt, paid tribute to her nephew and said no one could describe their loss. Born in Butterworth in 1975, the first of eight children, he completed his matric before moving to Cape Town to search for work opportunities.
“He was so brave and never complained. He was truly a loving and hard-working soul,” Lindiwe said.
Constable Khaka was the youngest of seven children.
Nyanga Cluster commander Major-General Robbie Roberts said: “As the cluster commander of Nyanga I lost four of my members last week. Three were killed on Monday and a fourth died of natural causes on Wednesday.
“Our police in Nyanga work very hard and in difficult circumstances, and we deserve better.”