Police Minister, General Bheki Cele, accompanied by KwaZulu-Natal's Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi, and his management team, paid their respects to the grieving family of Warrant Officer Sthembiso Mazibuko of the National Intervention Unit (NIU) on Tuesday evening in KwaMashu.
“We mourn the loss of a dedicated officer, Warrant Officer Sthembiso Mazibuko, who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the fight against crime,” Cele said in a press statement expressing his condolences.
“Our thoughts are with his family during this difficult time.”
Mazibuko was killed in the line of duty during a shootout with suspects earlier that day.
KwaZulu-Natal police spokesman, Colonel Robert Netshiunda said Mazibuko's tragic murder occurred when the police acted on intelligence and confronted suspects at a residence in Ntuzuma C Section, north of Durban.
The suspects, realising they were cornered, opened fire on the police, prompting an exchange of gunfire.
Netshiunda said four individuals in the house, two men and two women, were fatally wounded in the crossfire.
Additionally, another police officer sustained gunshot wounds and was rushed to the hospital for urgent medical attention.
Among the suspects, one had a notorious reputation as a wanted criminal.
He was allegedly responsible for a string of heinous murders, numbering at least 12, that occurred in the Durban North area from September 2023 until now.
Shockingly, some of his victims were members of the Community Policing Forum.
In a separate incident, Cele and the provincial police management visited another crime scene in the Mzinyathi area, where four suspected business robbers were wounded in a shootout with police officers.
The suspects had just committed a robbery at a store in Bhamshela, Nsuze, and were later spotted at Maphephetheni. As the police closed in on them, the suspects opened fire on the officers, leading to an intense exchange of gunfire. Fortunately, no police officers sustained injuries in this encounter.
During a subsequent search, authorities discovered a firearm, suspected stolen cellphones, and other electronic devices in the possession of the suspects. In addition, two vehicles believed to be linked to criminal activities were seized.
Cele also visited the injured police officer at the hospital and is scheduled to pay a courtesy visit to his family on Wednesday.
The four injured suspects remain under police guard in the hospital and will face charges in court once they are medically fit.
Investigations are ongoing, and there is a strong likelihood that these suspects will be linked to a series of business robberies that have plagued the Durban North area and other parts of the eThekwini District, police said.
Netshiunda said that as the investigations continue, police remain committed to maintaining law and order, ensuring the safety of communities, and bringing criminals to justice.