Rhino poaching top investigator shot dead on his way to work

Lt-Col Leroy Bruwer was the lead investigator in two high-profile rhino poaching cases.
Lt-Col Leroy Bruwer was the lead investigator in two high-profile rhino poaching cases.

A top Hawks investigator who cracked rhino poaching cases was killed assassination-style in Mpumalanga.

Lt-Col Leroy Bruwer, 49, died in a hail of bullets in Mbombela on the R37 connecting Mbombela and Lydenburg yesterday morning while heading to work.

He was the lead investigator of two high-profile rhino poaching cases - of former policeman Joseph "Big Joe" Nyalunga and suspected rhino kingpin Petrus Mabuza.

National police commissioner Gen Khehla Sitole said in a statement: "Colonel Bruwer, who was attached to the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation [the Hawks], was driving to work this morning at 6.30am when he was shot at on Lydenburg Road in Nelspruit with what appeared to be heavy calibre weapons by unknown gunmen. Colonel Bruwer died on the scene.

"Colonel Bruwer was a seasoned investigator within the DPCI environment and always excelled in cracking complex cases, particularly related to rhino poaching."

He said they had called a "multidisciplinary team to mobilise the 72-hour activation plan and urged the team not to rest until Bruwer's killers are brought to book".

"The SAPS family and the community have suffered a huge loss," said Sitole.

"I have extended my deepest condolences to Colonel Bruwer's family and promised a thorough investigation into his senseless killing."

Anyone who may have information on this case has been urged to contact the SAPS on 086 00 10111 or information may be communicated via MySAPSApp.

All information will be treated with the strictest confidence and callers may remain anonymous.

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