Tragic end to jail-break

2014-10-13 00:00

POLICE officers who survived a dramatic jail-break shooting that claimed the life of their colleague, said yesterdaytheir station had been turned into a war zone.

Warrant Officer Norman John (44) was killed when a suspect, Siyabonga Mdunge (33), went on a shooting spree on Saturday morning at the Pinetown SAPS holding cells.

A man who had been arrested for drug posession was also allegedly killed by Mdunge, while Constable Siyanda Mazibuko and Sergeant Mondli Mkhize were wounded in the chaos.

Mazibuko (32), who is recovering in St Augustine’s Hospital, said: “Our lives are always in danger. I thank God I’m alive, but it’s sad that we lost Norman.”

Mazibuko described how everything was going smoothly until around midnight when he received a call from John.

“He asked me to prepare docu­ments for him because he had made an arrest. He arrived at the station and began charging the suspect,” said Mazibuko.

Later Mkhize and his partner arrived with Mdunge and another suspect who had been arrested for drunk driving.

“Mkhize charged Mdunge first because he had an attitude. I was observing him and alerted the cops that he was a problem and that we needed to take precautions like putting away our weapons,” he said.

Mkhize’s weapon was placed in the safe, leaving John as the only armed officer.

Mdunge was instructed to proceed to the holding cells.

“On his way, he took John’s gun out of the holster and started shooting at him. John screamed and collapsed. [Mdunge] then shot Mkhize,” said Mazibuko.

Mazibuko and the man John had arrested ran into the toilets for cover.

“The suspect and I pushed the door closed to block him from coming in. He pushed and then kicked the door but failed to get in. He then fired shots,” said Mazibuko.

Mdunge entered the toilets and shot the arrested man, who collapsed and died.

“He demanded the cell keys from me and then shot me. I could sense I was between life and death and if I didn’t do what he wanted, he would kill me, so I gave him the keys.

“I then crawled to Mkhize and we started praying. I could hear the keys rattling and knew the suspect was getting out. Minutes later I heard several shots being fired and there were screams. I continued praying asking God for mercy,” said Mazibuko.

Mdunge was killed by the police.

John is expected to be laid to rest today.

• amanda.khoza@witness.co.za

Policemen must defend themselves

Prisons Civil Rights Union KZN secretary Kwenza Nxele has lambasted management for failing to do more to protect officers.

Nxele said police top brass have failed to provide basic but vital equipment like bullet- proof vests for officers.

The union has also expressed its condolences to the family of slain police officer, Warrant Officer Norman John, who was killed at the Pinetown police station at the weekend.

John is the latest officer to die in the province in the line of duty. In August another officer, Constable Zethu Cele, was killed while responding to a robbery in Durban.

Nxele said: “All officers must use their firearms to defend themselves and never die with their firearms on their hips.

“We call on police management to stop this lip service at the expense of police officers. They keep making promises but do nothing significant to deal with police killings.

“It seems like they are pleased with the decline of the crime statistics which makes them appear to be hard working at management level. They fail to do the basics like providing vital equipment for us but claim the glory of the grass root level police officers,” he said.

Nxele condemned the killing of policemen.

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