Cop kills man, ends own life

2014-01-14 00:00

A PIETERMARITZBURG man who tried to calm an alleged irate and drunk police officer who was threatening his girlfriend’s sister with his service pistol was shot dead by the policeman.

On Sunday night, Mfiswa Dlangisa (27) was shot twice by Zipho Mchunu (25), a detective constable stationed at Plessislaer police station, who later shot himself.

Mchunu, who had allegedly been drinking, was angry because his girlfriend Lungile Mnikathi had disappeared following a quarrel. He had been visiting his girlfriend who lives in a commune in West Street, where the shooting happened.

He had confronted his girlfriend’s sister, Nontobeko, who fled outside where Dlangisa had been sitting; Dlangisa is said to have been trying to broker peace when he was shot. Mchunu then turned the gun on himself and both men died at the scene.

Police spokesperson Thulani Zwane said police are investigating the motive for the shooting.

The Witness visited the scene yesterday morning and found people still sitting near the spot where the shooting took place.

Many of the residents in the area refused to speak about the incident.

But, pointing to a small pool of blood on the grass, one man said, “There is his [Mchunu’s] blood”.

Mnikathi (24) from Impendle said she had gone into hiding following the shooting.

“I am worried that people might think that I am responsible because Mchunu was my boyfriend.”

She said the sight of her boyfriend and another man lying in a pool of blood was something she would never forget.

“I have not had one wink of sleep [since the incident]. What I saw there was terrible; it’s the first time I’ve seen something like that and it was the worst thing to see,” said Mnikathi.

She said the drama began to unfold by mid-morning on Sunday when her boyfriend, who had been drinking at a nearby tavern, called her to join him.

“When I told him that I do not set foot in taverns, he then came to my room; he was slightly drunk”.

During the day, Mchunu, who comes from Bulwer, wanted to buy more liquor but did not have money so they went to a nearby store to withdraw money and to buy some items, including more alcohol.

Mnikathi said during the day Mchunu carried on drinking and insulting her until she decided to leave.

And then all hell broke loose.

“Nontobeko told me that after I left, he cornered her and another woman we live with to tell him where I was, threatening them with his gun …

“He got distracted and my sister managed to jump and grab the gun from him and flee from the room to find help from the men who live in the room outside,” said Mnikathi.

Nontobeko inadvertently dropped the gun in the yard and fled into the men’s room and locked herself in but Mchunu followed her, picked up the gun and tried to kick in the door.

Mnikathi said as the residents in the commune tried to flee to safety from the enraged policeman, two men who live in the room outside, got locked out.

“One of them managed to flee and the other tried to calm my boyfriend down, telling him what he was doing was not right.”

Mnikathi said Mchunu then shot this man, Dlangisa, twice and turned the gun on himself.

“I was heading back to my room when I got a call from my sister who was crying. When I got there, there were people standing by the fence. When they saw me they started crying. I walked in and found two bodies.”

Mnikathi said her boyfriend was often rowdy when he had been drinking. “His friend often took his firearm away when he was drinking …”

Dr Johan Burger of the Institute for Security Studies said many police officers work under conditions that could cause severe stress. “They are exposed to crime and violence on a daily basis … The fear that they may also be victims is always on their mind.”

He said although there were counselling services available these were not always adequate.

Attempts to get comment from the families of those who died were unsuccessful.

The shooting comes three days after another police officer, Constable Siboniso Charles Mkhize (29), was charged with murder after his girlfriend, Lindsay Draai (24), was shot dead at her home in Berg Street at the weekend.

Mkhize has been charged with murder (alternatively culpable homicide) for the shooting.

Past incidents of police officers being involved in shootings:

September 29, 2011: Sthembiso Mazibuko (28) of the Ladysmith police tactical response team shot his fiancée Sthembiso Ngubane (18), eight times with his R5 service rifle before going to the police station and opening fire on his colleagues without warning.

January 5, 2013: A police constable allegedly shot dead his ex-girlfriend Dumisile Ntombela (27) and her mother Thandi Ndlovu (63) with his service pistol at Greytown.

October 18, 2013: Constable Mthandeni Cyril Sibisi (36) from Loop Street police station shot his estranged wife Nana Sibisi (31), a Durban lecturer, after an argument as she made her way to work, seriously wounding her, and then turned the gun on himself in a quiet road in Sweetwaters township, dying at the scene.

October 22, 2013: Port Shepstone policeman Warrant Officer Linda Shange (49) shot and killed his wife Fikile (47) and two young sons Snakekelo (10) and Snakhonke (15), before turning the gun on himself. Police were also investigating if the gun was used to kill a police clerk earlier in the day.

November 11, 2013: A police constable Sandile Madonsela (30) shot and killed his girlfriend Ntombifuthi Mkhize (30) during an argument and then turned the gun on himself at Bruntville near Mooi River.

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