tears flow for chonco family
At a moving memorial service to pay tribute to the efforts of "super cop" Superintendent Zethembe Chonco, the police vowed to track down the two gunmen wanted for his cold-blooded murder a week ago.
One of the suspects, Lee Buthelezi, 28, was shot dead in a pre-dawn operation yesterday morning after the Durban organised crime unit swooped on his KwaDukuza hideout.
The police said when they entered Buthelezi's room he drew a 9mm pistol and the police were forced to shoot him dead.
Chonco, 48, was gunned down in Kwamaphumulo last Wednesday while he was escorting prisoners awaiting trial to the KwaDukuza magistrate's court.
Speaking at the memorial service in Kranskop yesterday, KwaZulu-Natal provincial commissioner Hamilton Ngidi said detectives were "closing in on the two suspects".
"We already know who they are," he said to thunderous applause from mourners.
Ngidi said investigations had indicated that four attackers were involved in Chonco's killing.
The first suspect died on the scene when he was shot dead during the actual ambush, while the second suspect, Buthelezi, was shot dead yesterday.
Speaking on behalf of the family, Chonco's younger brother, Mashi, urged the police to follow in his brother's footsteps.
"Police should not be discouraged by my brother's killing.
"Instead they should work harder to bring criminals to book," he said.
"My brother had dedicated his life to his job. But he also loved his family. It's a great loss for us."
Representatives of the departments of justice, correctional services, education, amakhosi, the business sector and the farming community also paid tribute to Chonco.
They described him as "a dedicated professional, a committed officer, and caring community worker".
"Chonco will be remembered for his dedication to his job.
"His colleagues will have to work hard to fill his shoes," said businessman Abbas Ally.
An emotional Jerome Sibisi, chairman of the provincial community policing board, called on the media to start educating communities about the disadvantages of killing police officers.
"The media should educate communities that police officers are part of us. They should not be treated as enemies.
"These (the police) are the same people who protect our bodies, our homes and our communities. They too have families. They are fathers and they are sons. Why do we kill them?" Sibisi asked.
He said he feared for the lives of his children who are also serving in the police force.
"I'm scared that some day they also would be brutally killed like my friend here today."