Cop shot dead before he could testify

2011-08-11 00:00

A LADYSMITH police warrant officer, Thokozani Ngcobo (43), who was expected to give evidence at the trial of six men, including an ex-colleague charged with a R692 000 cash-in-transit robbery in October 2009, was gunned down in the town late on Tuesday afternoon.

The circumstances surrounding his murder are under investigation by the organised crime unit.

The motive for the killing is still not known.

The Witness was told that nothing seemed to have been stolen by the attacker or attackers,

The police officer’s service pistol was recovered at the scene.

Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker told The Witness that Ngcobo had just arrived at his Limit Hill home in Ladysmith after finishing work when he was shot inside his vehicle.

He said there are overgrown shrubs in the immediate area surrounding Ngcobo’s home.

Naicker said a gunman opened fire on Ngcobo’s vehicle before fleeing the scene on foot.

Neighbours rushed him to a local hospital where he was declared dead as a result of multiple gunshot wounds.

Ngcobo is the 58th police officer to be killed in KwaZulu-Natal this year.

He had been a police officer for 22 years and was a member of the K9 unit in Ladysmith for 17 years, said his team leader, Captain George Hlongwane.

The Witness has established that Ngcobo was expected to give evidence as a so-called “204 witness” in connection with the cash-in-transit robbery trial being heard in the high court in Pietermaritzburg.

Such witnesses may be warned that the testimony they are required to give in court may implicate them in certain offences. However, if the court is satisfied that their evidence is truthful they may be granted indemnity from prosecution.

Ngcobo had reportedly declined to enter a witness protection programme.

He leaves a wife and two children.

His team leader paid tribute to him as a “dedicated officer” who always found humour in situations.

“Weekends or weekdays, if I needed Warrant Officer Ngcobo, even if he had a day off, he would come and do the job.”

The MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Willies Mchunu, said the incident happened ahead of preparations to convene a provincial summit on police killings next week, the aim of which was to find ways of curbing such acts.

The cash heist accused facing trial in the high court are Jerody Mthimunye (34), Philemon Nhleko (38), Ewat Ndubuko, Zikethela Sokhela (30), Mandla Maloi (37) and former Ladysmith police sergeant Siyabonga Nkwanyana (39).

The case did not proceed before Judge Anton van Zyl and assessors yesterday after Nhleko fell ill.

Evidence is due to resume today.

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