A Durban metro police officer and member of mayor Zandile Gumede’s security team has been killed in what has been described as an assassination.
Metro police spokesman, Superintendent Sibonelo Mchunu, said Constable Thapelo Mhlongo, 36, had left work and had arrived near the home of a colleague, whom he was on his way to meet, at the time of the shooting.
He said Mhlongo had been in his car in uMlazi, when two gunmen opened fire, in the late afternoon. Thirteen spent cartridges, which would be sent for analysis, were found at the scene, he said.
Mchunu, who described the killing as an “assassination”, said nothing had been taken from Mhlongo’s car.
He was wearing his uniform at the time and an official who was on the scene, in Umdlebe Road, Q-section, said Mhlongo’s service pistol had been on him. It was recovered there.
Mchunu said no matter how one looked at the incident, it led to the conclusion this was a deli-berate killing.
He said Mhlongo was one of the people who had been tasked with guarding the homes of Gumede and other senior politicians in Durban since 2012.
“This shows the trust the department had in him,” Mchunu said. Mchunu said Mhlongo had been married for two years. Mhlongo, who lived in Yellowwood Park, but was originally from Eshowe, died at the scene.
“We are shocked and saddened,” added Mchunu.
A police source who was fami-liar with the incident said Mhlongo may have been shot because of a personal matter involving a gangster.
Mhlongo was shot in his car near his colleague’s home, he said.
When the Daily News arrived on Tuesday night, police had cordoned off the scene and blocked the road.
Residents peered out through their windows and doors at the rainy scene as the police went about their investigations.
Some of the residents were afraid to speak.
Municipal spokeswoman, Tozi Mthethwa said: “eThekwini Municipality sends condolences to the family of the murdered Metro Police Officer. The circumstances surrounding the incident are unknown at this stage. Police are investigating.”
Sipho Khumalo, spokesman for Community Safety and Liaison MEC, Mxolisi Kaunda, said that the MEC would be saddened when he heard of the death of Mhlongo.
Khumalo said: “An attack on a police officer is an attack on the state itself.”
He said the department would be starting a campaign next week to fight the “scourge” of police killings.
On behalf of the MEC, Khumalo extended condolences to the policeman’s family.
Source : IOL