KwaZulu-Natal provincial police commissioner Mamonye Ngobeni has appealed to the community to assist in the murder investigations of a police officer.

Inspector Siphiwe Vilakazi, 45, was killed on Tuesday night while he was on duty in Umlazi's L section.

Provincial police spokesperson Superintendent Vincent Mdunge said Vilakazi was with two colleagues and had gone to arrest a suspect when he was murdered.

"The two other detectives went into a house to look for the suspect, leaving Vilakazi in the car. While the two officers were escorting the suspect to the police van, they heard gunshots. They rushed to the van and found Vilakazi lying there, wounded.

"He had been shot once. They rushed him to hospital, but he unfortunately died," said Mdunge.

He said after visiting Vilakazi's family yesterday morning, Commissioner Ngobeni has pleaded with community to come forward with information about the attack on Vilakazi.

"She urges whoever might have information on who the killer is to please come forward. Losing a police officer means that the community has lost a member who should be serving and protecting them, which is why we always urge residents to work with the police," said Mdunge.

Meanwhile, Mdunge brushed aside complaints by Okhukho residents, outside Ulundi, that they are being assaulted by the police.

Residents claim that the police wake them up at night and demand weapons, and when they fail to produce these, they are assaulted.

"It's not true that the police assault people. A reaction team has been deployed in Okhukho to search for illegal weapons because people are not surrendering weapons according to the amnesty. We had to deploy members in areas that have a history of criminality, but even in those areas, police don't assault people. If any member of the public has been assaulted, they can lay charges," said Mdunge.