Tribute to KZN slain officer

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iol sa pic NT Zethu Cele (2) Independent Newspapers Police salute Constable Zethu Cele at the funeral ceremony. Pictures: Patrick Mtolo.

Durban - Provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Mmamonnye Ngobeni cried during the funeral service of slain policewoman Zethu Cele, who was buried on Saturday at Mtwalume on the South Coast.

Ngobeni sobbed while describing the brutal death of Constable Cele, 33, who suffered multiple head injuries after being shot while responding to a call in Warwick Avenue last Saturday.

Cele’s partner, Sergeant Bheki Zulu, who is also stationed at the Durban central station, has been discharged from hospital. He was shot in the left leg.

Ngobeni asked Cele’s family to take care of her children, saying they did not understand what had happened to their mother.

“I am overwhelmed by her tragic death. She was committed to doing her duty. She served the police for nine years, having started as a police reservist,” Ngobeni said with a trembling voice.

The commissioner asked why some people always emphasised police brutality when it was clear that police members’ lives were at risk.

She said they might have killed Cele but she died a hero.

“She has left her own legacy. It is upon us to carry her legacy forward,” she said.

Ngobeni urged other police officers to use the resources offered by the state to protect themselves.

“We are deeply shocked by the way in which our members are killed. We need to start taking action before it’s too late.”

She said another policeman, Sergeant Michael Khawula, 41, who was stationed at Hibberdene, had also been killed on the night Cele died.

Khawula was also buried yesterday.

Ngobeni said killings of police officers were troubling the members of the force.

She made a promise to Cele’s family that the killers would be arrested.

“We have assembled a specialised task team to investigate her death. We will leave no stone unturned. But we also need the community to assist us in finding the killers.”

Cele is survived by her mother and two daughters aged, 6 and 12.

Family spokesman Faya Cele, 52, said they had lost someone with a kind heart.

He said in the period of employment Cele had made a lot of improvements to her family home.

The family would only find peace once the killers were behind bars, he said.

Ngobeni’s predecessor, former national police commissioner Bheki Cele, and other dignitaries also attended the funeral.

- Sunday Tribune

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