Durban - A vehicle-tracking signal drew police to a rural area near eMkhomazi, where sniffer dogs on Tuesday led them to a shallow grave containing what they suspect is the body of a missing Durban policeman.
Police drove to where a vehicle, in which the policeman had last been seen alive, had been parked in a rural area for three hours. They sent their dog into the bushes, and it picked up a scent and dug up a portion of sand, exposing a limb.
While police have not yet officially identified the body, a source said the clothes - navy jeans and jacket, red T-shirt and black takkies - matched the description of what a Durban Central constable was wearing when he was last seen on August 2 when he went to a party with two police friends.
The constable had not returned to his St Thomas Road, Berea, home. The source said his friends said they dropped him at home.
The constable’s name is know to the Daily News but the police have asked that it not be published until his family have identified the body.
The policeman was reported missing at the Berea Police Station.
Investigators learnt the constable was last seen with two other policemen.
When the detectives questioned the owner of the private vehicle in which the three partygoers had travelled, he said he had dropped off both his friends at their homes.
But when police checked the car’s tracking system it showed the car had not gone anywhere near the constable’s house.
The co-ordinates of where the car had been that night were obtained and it showed it had left a place in Umlazi and travelled to the Mfuma area on the South Coast.
Police search-and-rescue accompanied police to Mfuma, where the search dog found the body.
A wallet and cellphone were also found in the grave, the source said.
Police spokesman Colonel Jay Naicker confirmed a man was found buried in a shallow grave, but said the body had not yet been identified. A case of murder had been opened at the eMkhomazi SAPS.
The source said police investigators had found that the car had stopped for three hours at one of the co-ordinates on the record, 10km from eMkhomazi.
The body was found in a shallow grave near a gravel road in an isolated, bushy area near some farms.
The policeman’s mother was unavailable for comment on Tuesday night but it is believed that police had been in contact with her.
There had been at least five murders of police officers across the country over the past weekend.
On Saturday, Constable Zethu Cele was murdered while attending a crime in Durban. Sergeant Michael Sibongiseni Khawula, 41, was shot dead while driving home near Hibberdene the same day.
“We will ensure that their deaths were not in vain and those responsible will be brought to book,” provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Mmamonnye Ngobeni vowed on Tuesday.
A police officer who was at the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court to testify was seriously wounded when an awaiting-trial prisoner opened fire on Tuesday. A court orderly was wounded in the shooting.
Gauteng police said they were looking for the two men involved in the shooting. The pair, appearing on charges of house robbery and possession of unlicensed firearms, escaped and hijacked a vehicle outside the court.
The DA’s spokeswoman on policing matters, MP Dianne Kohler Barnard, said KwaZulu-Natal had been one of the most dangerous provinces for police members over the past decade, second only to Gauteng.
“Each death destroys a family. No stone must be left unturned in the search for the perpetrators of these heinous crimes,” she said.