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Maphumulo - An off-duty police captain has been shot dead during an armed robbery at a shopping centre in Maphumulo in Northern KwaZulu-Natal, police said on Saturday.

At 4.10pm on Friday afternoon, an unknown number of suspects entered a hardware shop and robbed the employees of an undisclosed amount of cash before proceeding to a nearby supermarket where they entered through the back entrance, Colonel Thembeka Mbhele said.

"Upon entering, the suspects saw the police officer, who was off-duty at the time, inside the supermarket. [The] suspects shot and [wounded] him, then they fled using their getaway vehicle."

The fifty-four-year-old police officer was taken to hospital where he later died. A case of murder and business robbery was opened at the Maphumulo police station. No arrests had yet been made, Mbhele said.

KwaZulu-Natal acting police commissioner Maj-Gen Bheki Langa condemned the brutal murder of the police officer. “It is with great sadness to learn about the horrendous acts by criminals who are targeting police officers. Such acts are very barbaric and we will not rest until we apprehend the perpetrators involved. Our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the captain. A task team has been formed to ensure that the suspects are arrested and prosecuted,” he said.

Anyone with any information about the incident and the suspects should contact the Maphumulo police on 032-481-4400 or the nearest police station, or the Crime Stop number 08600-10111.

African News Agency/ANA