THE release of a Mpumalanga student constable and son of a local magistrate from police custody, shortly after he allegedly shot dead a car washer, has angered local residents.
The 25-year-old student constable from Evander, stationed at the Piet Retief police station, was arrested in connection with the murder of Themba Dlamini, in his 20s, and originally from Vrede, in Free State.
Dlamini, known for making a living by washing minibus taxis at the local rank, was shot in the armpit in the early hours of Saturday morning.
He was returning from a nearby tavern.
The constable was allegedly off duty when the incident occurred at about 1.30am.
No explanation was offered by the police as to why he was carrying a service pistol while off-duty.
At the time of his arrest he claimed that he was with a relative returning from a local filling station where they had gone to buy cellphone airtime.
He said that that dead man and two others had attacked them.
Superintendent Abie Khoabane of the Mpumalanga police confirmed the incident and said the constable "was arrested and released the same day".
"We are investigating the whole matter."
Police found a knife in the dead man's hand.
But sources claimed that the crime scene had been tampered with because the knife in the deceased's hand appeared to have been planted.
"If he was carrying it in his hand, surely it would have fallen away from the body on impact," said a source.
The student policeman is due to appear in the Evander magistrate's court today on a murder charge.