Fearless cop murdered

2013-08-22 00:00

SHE was a rising star in the province’s police force.

A fearless officer who was instrumental in catching a gang of hardcore criminals that killed three people and terrorised the communities of Demat in Mariannhill and Chatsworth last year.

Last week, Constable Pinky Mthembu was shot in the back of the head by her boyfriend, Celan Iyer, a taxi owner, who then turned the gun on himself.

Mthembu, who was expected to scale the heights of her profession, had become a victim of femicide — the murder of a woman by an intimate partner — in a month meant to be dedicated to women.

In South Africa, statistics show that femicide occurs every eight hours. A total of 1 095 women are killed every year, according to People Opposed to Woman Abuse (Powa).

Hundreds of mourners are expected to attend the 30-year-old’s memorial service in Mandeni today.

She will be honoured with an official police funeral on Saturday.

On Monday, her family will watch SABC2’s police programme When Duty Calls, which features Mthembu, a member of the Umhlali K9 unit, because of her courage.

Mthembu’s sister, Futhi, was the last relative to see her alive.

Mthembu was unwell and had been admitted to hospital on August 9, she told The Witness.

When she visited her sister, Mthembu showed her a chilling SMS, in which Iyer threatened to shoot her.

Mthembu was discharged on August 15 and asked her sister to drop her off at Iyer’s house in Shaka’s Kraal, because she wanted to collect her clothes and her car.

Futhi Mthembu said she wasn’t aware that her sister was abused by Iyer. “She never said or talked about it. I regret leaving her there. If I didn’t leave her, she would still be alive.”

The family later received the shocking news that her sister had been shot in the back of the head and Iyer had turned the gun on himself.

The couple leave behind a seven-month-old baby girl and Mthembu’s seven-year-old son from a previous relationship.

“When we talk to him [her son], he just stares. I don’t think it’s sunk in.”

Colonel Vincent Mdunge described Mthembu’s death as a huge loss.

“She was not afraid to go into hostile environments and run through the bushes. She was brave as a stallion and as vigilant as the best officers.

“She feared no criminal, she was young and beautiful and she feared no man.”

Mthembu’s mother, Rosemary, said her daughter was hard working and loved her family and her job.

A week before she died, Mthembu had promised her mother that she would renovate her house.

For Mthembu’s family, all that remains now is to honour the woman who, when she was a little girl, told them it was her dream to become a police officer.

'We promote patriarchy'

NHLANHLA Mokwena, executive director of People Opposed to Woman Abuse (Powa), said Mthembu’s murder and other crimes committed against women made it difficult to celebrate the gains made by women in the country.

She said even a policewoman who knows her rights and has a gun can fall victim to domestic violence.

“The problem is the way we raise our young women — we promote patriarchy.

“Young girls feel that in order to be whole they have to have a man next to them.”

Professor Anshu Padayachee of the Advice Desk for Abused Women agreed, saying that the more women rose to positions of power, the more their partners exhibited jealousy and felt threatened.

“Young parents need to start raising their boys without allowing them to think they are superior to girls.

“They have to make the change now so that boys understand what masculinity means.”

Padayachee said she was not a supporter of Women’s Month.

“What is there to celebrate? Do we really have equality?

“We can’t keep celebrating the brave women of 1956 — they marched and got what they wanted.

“What about the women of 2013?”

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