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Slain off-duty PMB cop was integral to fighting crime

Const Thobani Gwala was shot dead in an altercation in Oribi, Pietermaritzburg, on Monday.
Const Thobani Gwala was shot dead in an altercation in Oribi, Pietermaritzburg, on Monday.
Image: Supplied

A man is expected to appear in the Pietermaritzburg magistrate's court on Tuesday in connection with the shooting of public order policeman Const Thobani Gwala on Monday.

Gwala, 35, was shot dead a few hundred metres from his work station in what is believed to be a road rage incident. 

“We are baffled about the incident. Hopefully we would get more information,” said his uncle Nick Gwala.

Thobani, from KwaSwayimani near Wartburg, was off-duty at the time of the incident.

Alexandra Road Community Policing Forum chairperson Mandlenkosi Bhengu said the incident was “concerning”.

“We are battling with the low numbers of police in the community. It’s something that is always raised in our meetings. It’s worrying as we approach the festive season” said Bhengu.

Thobani's former colleague at the unit who asked not to be identified said they were shattered by the loss.

“I am in disbelief. I can’t get over the brutality of how this young man was killed. How can you shoot someone mercilessly?”

He praised Thobani for having played an integral role in the unit, which is often relied on to quell tensions in various parts of the province.

“There was a time when a special task team had been set to recover unlicensed firearms. Thobani was in his element. We went from Estcourt and uMsinga to Mandeni.

“He was always smiling. The community has been left reeling because there is a dire shortage of [police],” he said.

Police and Prisons Civil Rights union KZN secretary Nthabeleng Molefe condemned the incident.

“This is barbaric. The province continues to gain notoriety for police killings,” said Molefe.

She reiterated the union's call to police minister Bheki Cele and national commissioner Gen Fannie Masemola to overhaul the Criminal Procedure Act.

“Those who kill police officers should be charged with treason. It is a direct attack on the state,” said Molefe.


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