Gang riddles police car

2014-08-18 00:00

A GANG armed with automatic assault rifles killed a policewoman who responded to the theft of a safe in Durban on Saturday night.

Constable Zethu Cele, who had rushed to the scene, was shot several times before she could even get out of her police car. Her colleague was wounded.

The officers are understood to have interrupted a gang of robbers who had broken into a business and loaded a large safe onto the back of a bakkie.

As the two drew near, the gunmen fired on their police vehicle using automatic assault rifles.

The high calibre rounds tore through the windshield and passenger side of the police vehicle, which skidded to a halt.

Cele sustained multiple gunshot wounds to her head, neck, chest and abdomen and died before paramedics got to her.

Her partner was shot in the foot and is recuperating in a Durban hospital.

RescueCare spokesperson Garrith Jamieson said that there was nothing they could do for Cele.

“When paramedics arrived they found the two wounded police officers on the street.

“The woman had sustained several gunshot wounds from high-calibre weapons and nothing could be done for her. She had died in the moments after the shooting,” he said.

“Medics treated and stabilised the other wounded officer and transported him by ambulance to hospital,” he added.

Her father Thembuyise Cele said her colleagues broke the news to the family at midnight, soon after her death.

“Police officers who work with her came to the house to tell us that my daughter has passed on. I was so devastated and could not control myself as tears started flowing on their own,” Cele said.

He said Zethu was very disciplined and was liked by many people.

“She was not the type of person that got into arguments. She got on very well with people and was not afraid to express herself if her feelings were hurt,” he said.

Cele said he hoped the culprits were brought to book.

“I want the government to apprehend those responsible for her death so that they can face the full might of the law,” Cele added.

Her slaying has drawn outrage from top police brass.

Provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Mmamonnye Ngobeni vowed to punish those responsible for the killing.

“I strongly condemn this attack and vow that those who committed this act will be apprehended and punished,” she said.

She expressed her condolences to Cele’s family, friends and colleagues.

“As we are celebrating women’s month, it is sad to report the death of a policewoman who was dedicated to her work in the fight against crime.”

She confirmed that the two had been rushing to the robbery when they were attacked.

“They were attacked and shot by unknown suspects who fled the scene after the incident. Constable Cele died at the scene and her colleague was injured and rushed to hospital for treatment.

“A case of murder and attempted murder has been opened at Durban Central police station for further investigation. We appeal to the members of the community to work together with the police in the fight against crime and the killing of the police officers.”

• jeff.wicks@witness.co.za

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