Top policeman gunned down after walking into a robbery in progress

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

Ladysmith police are devastated after a senior colleague with more than 30 years experience was gunned down while on his way to work.

Inspector Thulani "Baldwin" Zikalala, 54, was walking on Murchison Street on Monday while a robbery was taking place. He was shot. One robber was shot dead and two others were arrested.

Police said three heavily armed men walked into a cellphone shop just after it opened at 7.30am.

"The suspects took cellphones, airtime vouchers and cash," said Captain Charmaine Struwig.

"It's not clear what led to the officer's killing," Struwig said.

She said officers converged on the scene and chased two fleeing suspects.

"The suspects fled into a bushy area, firing shots at the officers. Police retaliated and the armed suspect was shot dead. The second suspect was arrested," she said.

A third man was arrested later and a recently-used firearm was recovered. Police suspect that a fourth man had escaped.

Zikhali's colleagues are devastated. Struwig said he was a lovely, honest person who had dedicated 32 years of his life to the police with honour and dignity.