Familes mourn police officers

2011-05-28 00:00

“WHEN my sister learned that my brother Captain Bongani Hlengwa had been killed in the line of duty, she cried so sorrowfully that when the neighbours asked what had happened, she said, ‘Our world has come to an end’.”

These were the words of Michael Hlengwa, speaking about his family’s reaction to the news of Bongani’s death last week.

Bongani Hlengwa (47) and Constable Zamikhaya Hlangulela (32) were gunned down by a tavern owner in Creighton as they raided his illegal premises. Another wounded officer is still recovering in ICU in hospital. The two officers will be laid to rest in Ixopo today.

Yesterday, national police commissioner General Bheki Cele, provincial commissioner Mammunye Ngobeni and other senior SAPS officials attended a memorial service for the two officers in Ixopo.

Hlengwa said that before they learnt of Bongani’s death, their mother sat outside and kept asking when Bongani was returning from work because it was getting late.

“And when we learnt what had happened, she broke down and said that she knew something was wrong and we were keeping it from her, but we also did not know ourselves,” Hlengwa added.

He said Bongani’s death was a great loss to his family and to his community. “He was a man who put others before himself, even on the day he was killed he was not working and was called in because the station was short on manpower.”

“This was not the first time he had been shot; he was shot in Riverside but he survived, this time though he did not survive and this has left a widow and fatherless children,” he added.

Laurentia Hlangulela, who spoke on behalf of Constable Zamikhaya’s family said their loss is immeasurable.

She spoke of Hlangulela’s difficult childhood, where he lost both his parents and said he only began to see himself progressing in life when he joined the police force.

“As his name Zamikhaya [build a home or family] suggests, he was in the process of building his home and all the materials are lying there. He was in the process of getting married,” she said.

She said their family also feel guilty about his death. “This was only his second month at the Creighton police station after he transferred from Durban,” she added.

“He had been suffering from a heart condition and we thought it was due to the stressful Durban environment and we advised him to relocate back here, and he gets killed.”

Cele said, for the past five weeks, he had been attending funerals for police force members. “The SAPS is now turning into a burial society because every week we are burying our members,” he said.

 

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