Officer’s murder stuns

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(Gallo Images)
(Gallo Images)

As colleagues and family mourn the death of Const Khangelani Mangqabini, a police officer who was stationed at the Mowbray police station, the need to improve the partnership between the community and the police has again been highlighted.

Mangqabini (40) was shot and killed by a suspect in Delft on Friday 19 March. He sustained gunshots to the body and later was declared dead at the hospital.

A media statement released by the Hawks said the officer had been shot during a dispute.

Mangqabini had been off duty when the incident occurred.

Two days after the shooting, on Sunday 21 March, the suspect (23), accompanied by his lawyer, handed himself over to police at the Delft police station. News24 has since reported that the suspect briefly appeared in the Goodwood Magistrates’ Court on a charge of murder and the possession of an unlicensed firearm on Tuesday 23 March.

According to Hawks spokesperson Zinzi Hani, the suspect will remain in custody at Goodwood prison while information is being gathered for his bail hearing. He is expected to again appear in court today (Tuesday 30 March).

The acting provincial head of the Hawks Brig Mushavhaduvha Ramovha condemned the latest killing of the officer.

He said the service had been robbed of yet another foot soldier.

A mere 19 days before Mangqabini’s murder, Police Minister Bheki Cele called on communities to step up their fight against crime by providing information to assist in police investigations.

“While the onus lies on the police to prevent, combat and investigate crime, communities have a role to play in flushing out crime, as the criminals committing these heinous acts come from the communities we serve, so the time to improve community and police relations is now,” said Cele. He made the comments on Monday 1 March following the gunning down of two police officers on patrol in Bloekombos, Kraaifontein, on Saturday 27 February.

News24 reported the police officers Sgt Mnakwazo Mdoko (46) and Mninawa Breakfast (28) were declared dead on the scene.

At the time, the provincial minister of community safety, Albert Fritz, condemned the shooting and killing of the two police officers.

“An attack on our police service is not only cowardly, but also an attack on the state and must be treated as such,” he said.

People’s Post approached Fritz for his input on the latest police shooting in Delft, but he did not wish to comment “as it is currently sub-judice”.

Last week, Jonathan Hobday, chair of the Mowbray community policing forum (CPF) – on behalf of the CPF and the wider community of the Mowbray police precinct – expressed his shock, sadness and dismay at the death of Mangqabini, “one of our own”.

“By all accounts, he was a dedicated and industrious member of the Mowbray police team and his loss will be sorely felt,” Hobday said.

Though a tragic event, Hobday hoped the police officer’s death would reinforce the need to develop a better partnership between the police and the public “and to grow the determination to nurture greater respect for officers of the law”.

“At Mowbray, the CPF’s top priority has always been to forge a trusting partnership with the police and to strive for the greatest transparency – and this has largely been achieved over the past two decades,” he said. 

However, he said it was always a work-in-progress – work that had suffered as a result of the distances that have been created by the rigours of the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to Hobday, communities need constantly to nurture close working relationships with their local police via such instruments as the CPFs, neighbourhood watches, sector policing, WhatsApp groups and active citizens’ patrolling.

“At a general level, my view is that much more needs to be done to enhance the public image of the police service – starting with the demilitarising of police ranks and dispensing with the so-called ‘moratorium’ on statistics.”

He believes the image of the police had also been harmed by some serious incidents of police over-reaction at times of public disorder – but also, for example, by heavy-handedness in enforcing some of the Covid-19 restrictions.

“It is clear that better training to deal with such events is needed,” he said, adding that reports of corruption in the police service and continued infighting in the top echelons, as well as worrying accounts of inefficiencies like the forensic backlogs, serve only to taint this image further and to dent public confidence and respect.

“I feel that active steps should be taken to devolve a large measure of control of policing to provincial level, with the aim of enhancing accountability, improving management functions and creating greater operational flexibility,” Hobday concluded.

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