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Concerns grow after five cops killed in KZN in three weeks

Minister of Police Bheki Cele.Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

Minister of Police Bheki Cele.Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Mar 9, 2021


Durban – SERGEANT Thamsanqa Mbedu is the fifth police officer to be killed in KwaZulu-Natal in the past three weeks after he was shot 27 times.

According to Police Minister Bheki Cele, by Friday, seven police officers had been killed in 15 days in South Africa.

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Mbedu had been a police officer for more than nine years and was part of Empangeni Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Investigations (FCS).

National police spokesperson Colonel Brenda Muridili said it was alleged that on Saturday at 9.20pm, Mbedu was on duty performing investigation duties in the Iniwe area in Empangeni in an unmarked state vehicle, a white Toyota Hilux Double Cab, and was alone.

“The member was accosted by an unknown person who came from behind the police van, who then fatally shot at the member after an altercation. The member passed away on the scene,” said Muridili.

Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union provincial secretary Nthabeleng Molefe said they were deeply saddened by the widespread police killings.

“There should be a unit dedicated to investigating incidents where police are killed, because if a police officer is suspected of having done something in the community then there is the Independent Police Investigative Directorate,” said Molefe.

“We have also asked the police to shoot and kill, and we will represent them as a union because we see that now the police attacks are on the rise as if it is a matter of leaving the community alone so that criminals are left to fend for themselves.”

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Molefe urged the public to work with the police to arrest criminals.

“We strongly urge that those who have been arrested be charged with treason and to receive a heavier sentence than in the past, so that others who wish to do the same can see the consequences. They should be made an example of,” he said.

Transport, Community Safety and Liaison acting MEC Kwazi Mshengu said Mbedu was parked on the road next to Dick's Tavern and he switched on the vehicle’s blue light trying to alert the driver of the parked vehicle to move it off the road. While Mbedu was waiting for the vehicle to be moved so he could proceed, an unknown person came from behind the police van and had an argument with the officer. The unknown person then took out a firearm and shot at Mbedu several times and fled the scene.

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Mbedu sustained 27 gunshot wounds and was declared dead at the scene. His firearm was not found in his possession.

The MEC tasked police to “search every corner of the province and strain every nerve” to find the suspect.

“When criminals draw out their firearms their intentions are clear, and that is to kill police. We therefore call on police to retaliate and use their tactical expertise to fight back until the last bullet when faced with merciless criminals.

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“Five police officers have been killed in the province in the past three weeks which is a clear indication that criminals are on a warpath against police. The murder of a police officer is a direct attack on the state and the rule of law, therefore the only bodies we should be counting are those of criminals and not of police officers. Police must not die with a gun in their hands, but they must defend themselves decisively,” said Mshengu.

Police appealed to anyone with information on the whereabouts of the suspects, or information that could lead to the gunman’s arrest, to call their Crime Stop number 086 00 10111 or send tip-offs on the MySAPS App. All information received would be treated with confidentiality.

Police officers killed in KwaZulu-Natal recently:

March 6: Sergeant Thamsanqa Mbedu from Empangeni FCS was shot dead 27 times while performing investigation duties.

March 4: Detective-Captain Sam Nyawose, 55, of the Umkomaas SAPS Detective Service, was gunned down in an alleged hit while on his way to work.

February 20: Sergeant Makhosaze Mdlangathi, 33, and Sergeant Mfikelwa Mtolo, 36, were killed execution-style while off duty in Taylor’s Halt, near Pietermaritzburg.

February 18: Constable Mfihloyakhe Ndlovu, 45, was killed when he and his colleague responded to a domestic violence complaint in Welbedacht East, Chatsworth.

February 7: Constable Sizwe Mthethwa, stationed at Inanda police station, was stabbed and killed while off duty.

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SAPSCrime and courts