Police said the cop was killed during a shootout after he allegedly shot one man and pummelled another to death with a plank. File picture: Mario Rivera Alvarado/AP
Johannesburg - A cop who murdered two people and injured two others in City Deep, Joburg on Tuesday was armed with an official police firearm despite being suspected of suffering from a mental illness.

A cleaner at the Greenfields Flats, where the shooting happened, told The Star that the Flying Squad member had been mentally unstable since 2014 and was receiving treatment. She suspected he had stopped taking his medication, which could have led to his rage that culminated in the murders and his death.

“I knew him very well. He was admitted to a government hospital in 2014, given treatment, and he came out after that,” she said.

However, provincial police spokesperson Captain Mavela Masondo said he could not confirm these allegations as there was no record of the officer being mentally ill. Masondo said investigations were still under way and counselling would be offered to the officers who were at the scene.

“We believe a fight broke out and that is how the shooting started.”

Masondo said the officer was killed during a shootout with his colleagues outside Greenfields after he allegedly shot one man and pummelled another to death with a plank. The officer is believed to have tried to force himself into the flats minutes before the shooting.

Residents said they feared they would be killed but managed to capture the event on their cellphones from their balconies and windows.

The footage shows the cop in uniform, including a bulletproof vest, marching down the street shortly after killing his victims. One terrified resident can be heard in the video saying: “Ugula ngenqodo plus drugs (He has a mental illness and takes drugs).

More than 10 policemen from the Flying Squad then swooped on the cop and gunned him down.

“The police first shot him in the leg but nothing happened, he just continued marching, until they eventually managed to shoot him down. He was rushed to hospital where he later died.”

According to witnesses, the man started shooting from the nearby Moffatview police station, where he worked. However, officers there were too scared to stop him.

“The man is very popular at work and always did a good job. When they wanted to catch criminals or gangsters and went with him, they’d always win,” said a resident who declined to be named.

One of the victims was Mozambican Emmanuel Mairo Matshinhe, 32. He had lived at the flats since 2015 and was cohabiting with 43-year-old Rebecca Makhanya. She said they had been together for seven years.

Makhanya was at work and received a phone call from neighbours informing her of what had happened to her partner.

“I arrived around 10.45am after all the chaos. I was escorted to my home by police as they had closed off the road with three ambulances during the commotion.”

She described Matshinhe as a man who was very fond of church and said she did not understand how his death could have happened right before he went to church.

“Since the entire ordeal, no one from the police has come to see us. I don’t know if I will open a case. But what would be the point be anyway, because the person who did this is dead?” she said emotionally.

The Johannesburg Social Housing Company (Joshco) issued a statement, which said: “Joshco and the SAPS will provide immediate support to the families of the victims, Joshco staff and the rest of the residents who witnessed the incident.”

As it stands, funeral arrangements are still on hold as the family are waiting for instructions from the deceased’s family.

Masondo said that because many people had been affected, the SAPS was trying to reach out to them as their investigations continued.

It is alleged that the man’s second victim was a bystander who was trying to reason with the officer and find out why he was shooting, but was instead battered to death with a plank.

Residents said that although the man appeared to be dead, the officer continued to stab him in the back with a knife.

Zuzile Mahamba, a security guard, said the officer came looking for someone called “Sviji” and forced him to open the gate.

He refused, saying he did not know him, and the furious officer left. He then went to the security guard at the opposite end and ordered him at gunpoint to open the gate.

“He then held a gun to the other security man’s head, forced him into his car, and came back to the gate, saying he would fire if I did not open the gate. The other guard begged me to open and I let him in. I then agreed to communicate with the other guard through our radio devices,” he said.

Mahamba said that within a few minutes, a woman called from one of the flats, saying she had heard multiple gunshots.

“As he walked out, he approached me and tried to shoot, but his weapon had fortunately run out of bullets, and that was the point when I hid in a woman’s flat until the police arrived on the scene.”

Masondo said he could not name the deceased killer cop.

The Star