Family questions training at memorial for cops who died in N1 explosion

2014-03-07 09:14

Why were four police officers on an accident scene, trying to rescue a trapped man, when they were not trained for such operations?

This was among the concerns raised by a representative of the families at a moving memorial service held in Polokwane yesterday for the officers who had died while trying to rescue a man from a burning truck.

Another relative urged officials to curb the transportation of explosives for the public’s safety.

Constables Lawrence Sehlako, John Mahlokoane, Reuben Moloto and Warrant Officer Joseph Mafani were killed when a truck loaded with explosives, apparently on its way to a mine in Zambia, exploded following a crash on the N1 North just outside Mokopane in the early hours of the morning last Thursday.

Police said the grocery truck had crashed into the back of another truck, loaded with explosives, and 10111 received a frantic call after which an accident and emergency unit was dispatched, accompanied by other officers.

When they arrived at the scene, the officers found the grocery truck on fire and the driver trapped inside.

The four officers were killed in a huge explosion, which mowed down nearby trees, left a hole in the tarred road and reduced a truck to debris and small pieces of wreckage.

Three officers survived the explosion. One lost his leg.

National police commissioner Riah Phiyega described the four officers’ deaths as a loss to the police service and the country.

She said the ratio of police to citizens was one officer for every 300 people. This meant 1 200 people had suffered a loss. Phiyega said the memorial service was held “to pay tribute to the fallen heroes” who died in the line of duty while trying to save a life.

The four officers will be buried tomorrow.

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