Double murder mystery deepens - Cop shooting sees more cops questioned

2014-02-07 00:00

POLICE are investigating whether Saturday’s murder of two police officers, allegedly by a fellow officer, may involve more police, a source close to the probe says.

Yesterday more police officers were questioned for their role in the double murder, in which a high ranking Stanger policeman is accused of shooting two colleagues in the head.

And, according to a well-placed source, the questioning by investigators yesterday had more to do with whether the crime scene had purposely­ been tainted than direct involvement.

Constable Sibusiso Mthethwa (31) and student­ Constable Thobani Xulu (26) were shot in the head as they sat in the front seats of their police minibus on a roadside in kwaDukuza on Saturday morning. A fourth police officer sustained­ minor injuries.

It has emerged that Xulu’s father, station commander at Nkandla police station, is a former colleague of the alleged shooter.

Yesterday the accused, Lieutenant Thulamuza­ Mokoena (53), made a brief appearance before the kwaDukuza Magistrate’s Court.

He was not asked to plead and requested legal aid. The case was postponed until February 13 and set down for the bail application.

The court building was surrounded and closely­ monitored by heavily armed policemen.

Police told The Witness that there were concerns for Mokoena’s safety after a group of armed men allegedly arrived at his home in Groutville looking for him on Monday night.

He had, however, already been arrested and taken into custody that afternoon.

But while Mokoena has been arrested, the firearm has yet to be recovered.

A source close to the investigation said the police were looking at whether officers had interfered­ with the crime scene.

“They are looking at whether the officers in the kombi were, or had been, involved in extortion­ and if so from who did they extort.

“They are also looking at whether other officers­ may have tried to derail the investigation and what their motive for doing so could have been,” said the source.

“One theory is that there was an argument in the vehicle over money before the shooting took place. There is also evidence pointing that either all or just one of the officers in the kombi had been drinking alcohol as both open and closed bottles of liquor were found on the crime scene,” said the source.

Hawks spokesperson Paul Ramaloko confirmed­ more officers had been called in for questioning but would not give further details.

SAPS provincial communications officer Captain Thulani Zwane would not comment on the details but confirmed further questioning of police officers was underway.

“We can’t comment on specifics in this sensitive­ investigation but the police are making various lines of inquiry. The fourth officer who was present in the police vehicle at the time of the shooting has been released from hospital. As with any investigation he has been interviewed,” said Zwane.

Mokoena, a career police officer, was promoted­ to lieutenant in 2011. According to official police records he has not been found guilty of an internal offence since 1987. The offence­ was not listed.

Bongani Xulu, student Constable Thobani’s father, said his son had always wanted to be a police officer. “When he was growing up he would walk with me to the gate on my way to work. He would sometimes have my hat on his head.

“After completing Grade 12, he got a clerical job at Stanger police station and that was his first step into the police force,” said Xulu, a station commander at the Nkandla police station.

He said what hurt most is the fact that he knew the officer alleged to have killed his son.

He said his other son, also a student constable, was not taking his brother’s death well.

“He is disturbed by this and now, as a family, we are looking at arranging the funeral and we have a son who needs all our attention because he has not been himself since he heard about his brother’s death,” he said.

Bongani will be buried in his home village of Manyane in Nkandla on Saturday.

• Additional reporting: Mervyn Krishna


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