Suspect a hijacking victim who confused cops with robbers

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

Police say the cold-blooded killing of a Durban policeman is a blow to fighting crime.

Zakhele Nxumalo, 48, was gunned down in the Mshaayazafe area of Inanda, north of Durban, yesterday morning while he and his team from the Durban organised crime unit were investigating a cash-in-transit robbery that took place on Tuesday.

Officers raided two houses during the night. At one, they retrieved an undisclosed amount of money stolen in the heist.

Superintendent Muzi Mngomezulu said: "As the police convoy was leaving the area the suspect came out of [concealment behind a] bush and opened fire on the police car.

"Nxumalo, the driver, was fatally wounded and his colleague, Inspector Themba Mbatha, was seriously injured and is at a local hospital.

"It was later established that the suspect was the victim of a hijacking in the area and had confused the officers with his robbers," Mngomezulu said.

"The detectives who survived the attack are traumatised", he said.

"We condemn this attack when our men are ambushed in cold blood. We will leave no stone unturned to get to the bottom of this.

"We expect to make an arrest soon because the suspect is known."

Zakhele's colleagues described him as "a good policeman".

The head of the organised crime unit in KwaZulu-Natal, Anton Booysen, described Zakhele as a "super detective".

"I have known him for 17 years. He had a crime intelligence network that was phenomenal and he was passionate about his job," he said.

"He had no aspiration to be a commissioner. All he wanted to do was fight crime - on the ground and where it mattered. He will be missed."

Pat Ntsobi, spokesman for Popcru, said the rate at which police are killed on duty was alarming.