Off-duty cop shoots at robbers

2014-03-18 00:00

AN alleged knife-wielding robber was shot and killed by an off-duty policeman after robbing a law student in the Pietermaritzburg city centre on Saturday.

Jerushka Balilal (18) was walking along Church Street with her mother, Meera, when she was accosted by three men opposite the A.S. Chetty building near the taxi rank.

Her mother, Meera Balilal, said two men pushed her daughter roughly to the floor while the suspect who was later killed searched her pockets. The men held a knife to her neck during the robbery.

“I was panicking and told them they can take whatever they want, but they must leave my daughter alone,” she said yesterday.

Balilal said she even offered her handbag, but they just ran off with her daughter’s cellphone.

“While I was trying to comfort my daughter I heard screams from people who wanted the suspects to return the cellphone and then I heard two gunshots,” she said.

Balilal said they were on their way to board a taxi home to Northdale, when they were approached by a man who asked them to identify the suspect and if they recognised the cellphone retrieved from the man who had been shot.

Balilal said they recognised the man as the same suspect who had taken the cellphone

“We were told to wait next to his car which was parked near the Magistrate’s Court to give police our statements,” said Balilal.

She said she was concerned about the number of people who are constantly being robbed in that vicinity and called for security agents to act against such criminal elements.

“My daughter is traumatised. She is hurt on the head and her shoulder after the incident,” she said.

On scene, Jerushka looked shaken and was in tears after the robbery.

Balilal said, “We are worried now because the policeman who helped us is facing a murder charge because of trying to protect us from armed robbers.”

People gathered around the dead suspect’s body, lying on the floor with a Blackberry cellphone sticking out of his pocket.

He died minutes before an ambulance arrived on scene.

People on scene commended the policeman for a job well done in protecting members of the public while off duty. However those who knew the suspect wanted to confiscate the gun, accusing the policeman of being trigger happy.

Provincial police spokesperson, Colonel Jay Naicker said an off-duty policeman, who noticed the incident, shouted at the suspects to stop what they were doing and to surrender, but they ignored his instructions and continued their aggressive attack.

“The police officer was then forced to produce his firearm and fired two shots at the armed suspects,” said Naic­ker. He said two of the suspects fled while the body of one of the suspects was found on the scene. Naicker said he was later identified as Sphesihle Nzuza (22) and he had been shot in his lower back.”

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