Police Station Commander recalls tragic shooting

IT has been a year since Lieutenant-Colonel Thandi Mkhize was shot 14 times by her colleague.

Mkhize - a commander of the Rosebank police station - was shot by the station's clerk, David Kekana, who killed another senior policewoman, Captain Neelavathi Naidu, before committing suicide.

Mkhize says her physical health has improved, but doctors have yet to give her the green light to go back to work.

She admitted to not realising the extent of the damage the shooting did to her emotional health.

As South Africa celebrates Women's Month, Mkhize is reminded of her horrific ordea last year.

She said: "I was fine the whole year until the end of July. In my head, it felt like August 1 [last year].

"Suddenly, I remembered what I was doing on that day. I remember planning with Captain Neelavathi Naidu how we were going to spend Women's Month.

"The day was fine and normal, until Kekana walked into my office and pumped two bullets into me."

Mkhize says she thought Kekana had left the premises after shooting her, when she heard two gunshots going off in Naidu's office - next door.

"When I heard Captain Naidu scream, I wanted to go out and help her. I thought after shooting Naidu, Kekana would run away, but instead he came back for me again."

To Mkhize's disbelief, Kekana fired 12 more bullets at her.

"As he was shooting, I kept on talking to him ... telling him that [his] dismissal was not the end of the road," she said.

Mkhize has forgiven Kekana, has no fears of going back to her old office, and - more than anything - is grateful for the support she got from her family and colleagues.

"I am doing much better now."

Mkhize saidshe would be spending Women's Month with disadvantaged children and abused women.

"I feel children need motherly love, and I want to give it to them."

Mkhize encourages women to be strong and to be able to say "no" to abuse.

"Women should stop volunteering themselves to abuse. I would like to say to them; 'stay strong and learn to stand up for yourself'," she says.

Several hours after the interview, Mkhize called to tell this writer that she had just inquired - for the umpteenth time in a day, a week and a month - about the health and wellbeing of Naidu's two children, who have become "virtually my own kids now".

Rosebank police station spokesman Bonginkosi Mdletshe said since the tragedy, the station has undertaken to encourage staff to report any difficulties they encounter at work, whether they are big or small.

- lerato@sowetan.co.za

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