Killer cop runs amok

2011-09-29 00:00

DEATH stalked the streets of Ladysmith yesterday morning when a lovelorn Sthembiso Mazibuko (28) of the Ladysmith police tactical response team shot his fiancée, Sthembiso Ngubane (18), eight times with his service R5 assault rifle before opening fire on people at random in the normally peaceful town.

After killing his girlfriend at about 2 am, Mazibuko went to the police station and opened fire on his colleagues without any warning.

When his magazine emptied he managed to grab the service pistol of one of the officers who had taken cover. He crossed the street to a filling station and calmly started shooting at people there, critically injuring a civilian in the leg.

Mazibuko proceeded down Murchison Street, the town’s main road, shooting at cars parked in a dealership, hitting the tyre of an Audi A6.

Then he hijacked a security company vehicle and drove towards the town’s popular Wimpy franchise, where police officers managed to corner him.

He escaped from them and found his way back to his flat, where he tried to shoot himself by placing the weapon’s muzzle under his chin. But the round exited through his cheek and Mazibuko stumbled out of his first-floor flat down the stairs, leaving his fiancée’s bullet-riddled corpse in their blood-spattered flat.

Ladysmith police spokesperson Captain Charmaine Struwig said the police found Mazibuko outside his flat and took him to the La Verna Hospital in Ladysmith, where he died.

Struwig said two handguns and the rifle were found on him.

Provincial police spokesperson Phindile Radebe said an inquest was opened and cases of murder and attempted murder are being investigated.

Afterwards shocked neighbours said they had no clue what went wrong between the couple who were normally so friendly.

A police source said Mazibuko had paid lobola for Ngubane and that they were planning to get married. “Somehow he discovered that she was having an affair, but the question is, did he catch her in the act or was he tipped off? I guess now that they are both gone we will never know,” said the officer.

Sbo Mazibuko (not related), who stays next door, said the deceased were in love and that they were never heard arguing.

“I’ve been staying with them since last year at about June and there has never been a reason for them to fight. Even last night we were together and we left them.

“I heard a commotion at about 2 am and when I went knocking to the flat Sthe (Mazibuko) assured me that all was fine, then ‘bang!’ — a gunshot. We will never know what exactly led to this mess,” said Mazibuko.

She confirmed that lobola was paid for Ngubane.

Dr Johan Burger of the Institute for Security Studies said it has often been observed that the police work under a lot of stress, particularly members of specialised teams such as the tactical response team.

“We have pointed out that such members need to be psychologically evaluated from time to time,” he said, adding that police commanders have to monitor members of the elite teams. He warned there would be more such cases if the psychological preparation and monitoring of elite force members is lacking.

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