Weekend of bloodshed sees protection officer killed in mass shooting and policewoman found murdered
The South African Police Services experienced a weekend of tragedy, with two officers slain in separate incidents in the Western Cape.
Warrant Officer Lindela Mraqisa, a member of the Western Cape’s Protection and Security Service (PPS) division who served as a close protector of Deputy Minister of Police, Cassel Mathale, was one of five people killed during a mass shooting in Gugulethu, in Cape Town.
In a separate incident, Western Cape Police confirmed that the body of a 29-year-old policewoman was found in Malgas camp, Extension 4, Mfuleni in the early hours of Sunday morning. The officer attached to Samora Machel SAPS had allegedly been out with a friend visiting acquaintances in the area when the incident happened.
Police spokesperson Colonel Andrè Traut said that a 30-year-old suspect was subsequently arrested by Mfuleni police.
While the officer’s name had not been made public earlier on Monday, she was later named as Constable Asavela Mathe.
“Further investigations about the circumstances that led to her death including the possibility that she was raped, are the subject of an investigation that has since been undertaken by the Western Cape DPCI (Hawks) investigators,” said Traut.
Regarding the Gugulethu massacre, the Western Cape Serious Violent Crimes (SVC) unit is probing the deaths of the officer, three other men and a woman who were shot and killed.
On Sunday, Deputy Minister of Police, Cassel Mathale sent his condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Mraqisa, who had served as one of his personal protectors since 2019.
Mathale described Warrant Officer Mraqisa as dedicated, humble and hardworking, adding: “The number of police officers killed on and off duty remains a concern for the leadership of the SAPS. We need the whole of society and government to fight this scourge. Mraqisa was a soft-spoken, dedicated and focused police officer who was always punctual and professional in his conduct. We hope police will find and bring to book those responsible for his death. My condolences go to his family.”
The double murder comes weeks after the murder of Temba Mphalala, a 37-year-old police sergeant from Bardale, Mfuleni was killed last month in Khayelitsha in site B. He was based at SAPS Bellville South Vispol. His friend Loyisa Sizani, 39, from Crescent, Khayelitsha site B was injured.
It is not just police officers who are seemingly being targeted — Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (Leap) officers have also been under attack.
Read in Daily Maverick: “Violence intensifies as third Cape Town law enforcement officer ambushed in just over a month.”
On Sunday, 3 September, President Cyril Ramaphosa joined the nation in honouring officers who lost their lives on SAPS National Commemoration Day, emphasising that deadly attacks on police officers are on the rise.
Read more in Daily Maverick: The names of 34 police officers who paid the ultimate price trying to safeguard SA memorialised in Pretoria
Following the latest double killing, Police Minister Bheki Cele, accompanied by National Police Commissioner General Fannie Masemola, a delegation of top officers, and the investigating teams met on Monday, 2 October, to address the crisis.
Following the engagement, the top brass paid a visit to the bereaved family of slain Warrant Officer Mragisa. They then went to the family of the off-duty member slain in Mfuleni on Sunday morning.
After visiting the Mathe and Mraqisa families, Cele said, “The murder of 29-year-old Constable Asavela Mathe is quite a mischief and it sounds painful. We are glad that one person has been arrested.”
Cele told the media that on Sunday night they met the team that is probing the killings of the police officers.
“On Monday afternoon, we had another meeting dealing with those teams to pave a way on how we have to move in order to do better when it comes to police killings.”
Western Cape Provincial Commissioner, Lt Gen Thembisile Patekile has expressed condolences to the family and colleagues of the deceased police officers. He assured that with the investigation currently underway, the law will take its course.
The DA in the Western Cape expressed alarm at the multiple killings and supported a call for Gugulethu residents to receive greater crime-fighting resources and for an investigation to be conducted into the apparent inability of the SAPS to gather and act on meaningful crime intelligence. DA Western Cape spokesperson on Community Safety Gillion Bosman said, “It is heartbreaking to see more death and violence in our communities, with no signs of improvement. It is vital that SAPS comes to the table and provides the resources that are so desperately needed so that a meaningful impact can be made on the ground.”
Last Saturday, the police minister attended the funeral of Warrant Officer Dalmain Morris (41), who was attached to the Anti-Gang Unit and was killed in a drive-by shooting while taking a statement from a murder witness in Westbury, Johannesburg.
Now Cele is preparing to attend the funerals of the murder officers, Constable Mathe and Warrant Mraqisa. DM
This is a developing story.