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News - Date: 13 October 2017
Written by: Elmon Tshikhudo / Viewed: 2379
The killing of members of the police force by criminals is becoming a source of great worry among the police and the community at large.
Each year, many police officers are killed in the line of duty or ambushed at their homes. In many cases the men and women are killed for their firearms.
On Monday residents of Vhembe were left in shock when greeted by the sad news that a well-respected and humble police officer was shot and killed and had his state issued vehicle stolen by the killers.
Lt-Col Phineas Marubini Mamatsiari (55) of Dzwerani, who was attached to the Vehicle Crime Investigation Unit in Sibasa, became the latest statistic when he was shot dead on arrival at his gate on Sunday evening at about 20:30.
The attackers, who are believed to have been two persons, stole his state vehicle and allegedly proceeded to commit more robberies at clinics in the Elim, Waterval and other surrounding areas, robbing security guards of their service pistols.
During the incidents, the description of the stolen vehicle was circulated and a search ensued ending up with the vehicle being spotted next to the University of Venda.
Police gave chase and the chase ended at the traffic lights along the Punda Maria road at the Maniini crossing. There was a fierce gunfight between the robbers and police. The robbers then retreated, abandoned the stolen vehicle and fled on foot.
The shoot-out happened at around 02:00 on Monday morning.
By early morning, traffic had piled up at the scene and had to be redirected as police cordoned off the scene. Within a short time, a large group of residents had gathered at the scene and watched as police searched for evidence at the scene.
A bag, allegedly belonging to the deceased policeman, was found in the car as well as a small safe. It is believed that the robbers might have been injured in the shooting.
A police constable was seriously injured during the shooting and is being cared for at a hospital. His name could, however, not be mentioned, as he is a witness in the case.
On Tuesday, Limpopo Mirror visited the grieving family at Ha-Madala outside Vuwani, where neighbours and relatives were busy erecting a big tent next to the deceased’s house for the funeral.
Narrating the incident, the deceased’s sister, Ms Selina Mamatsiari, said that she was at her home which is next to her brother’s at about 20:30 when she heard gunshots. “I heard three shots and did not know where the sound was from. Shortly thereafter I received the bad news and rushed to the gate where my brother was killed.”
She added that they are shattered “and had to struggle to comfort the deceased’s wife, who is failing to come to terms with the death. This is a hard time for us all, the man could not even hurt a fly, but they decided to kill him in the cruellest way,” she said.
Ms Mamatsiari said the support they are receiving from the community and colleagues is what is giving them hope to continue with life. “We are leaving everything in the hands of God and we strongly believe that police will do their job and apprehend the killers.”
She said funeral arrangements were at an advanced stage and that her brother will be buried on Sunday at the local cemetery.
The local traditional leader, Khadzi Vho Nkhangweni Nelwamondo, who is also a close family friend said she was heartbroken. “When he arrived from Ha-Mashamba many years ago, the first person to welcome him here was myself. We bonded over the years and we are like one family.”
Limpopo police commissioner, Gen Nneke Ledwaba condemned the killing of police, saying it is like an attack on the state. He said police will work around the clock to see to it that the robbers are behind bars in no time.
Shortly before going to press, the police have confirmed a breakthrough, saying the special task team they established to track the robbers had arrested a suspect.
Limpopo police spokesperson, Lt-Col Moatshe Ngoepe said the man, aged 32, was arrested on Tuesday and will appear in court soon. “The hijacked police vehicle and a firearm were recovered by the investigation team on Monday in the bushes along the Thohoyandou-Punda Maria road.”
The hunt for the second suspect and the tracing of the robbed firearms are still continuing and anyone who can assist the police with information about this remaining suspect, may contact Capt Wilson Mashamaite at 071 675 9928, the nearest police station or the crime stop number 0860 010 111 or the crime line SMS 32211.
The late Lt-Col Marubini Phineas Mamatsiari (55).
Elmon Tshikhudo started off as a photographer. He developed an interest in writing and started submitting articles to local as well as national publications. He became part of the Limpopo Mirror family in 2005 and has since been a familiar name among the newspaper's readers.