‘Man killed by Cyril’s bodyguard’

A police officer who was a member of the VIP protection unit assigned to the presidency was involved in a gun battle that resulted in the death of a civilian in Mthatha, Eastern Cape, last weekend.

The police officer was in Mthatha as part of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s security detail.

Ramaphosa had visited Bhisho on July 7, where he was the keynote speaker at the 20-year anniversary celebrations of the Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders, before flying by military helicopter to Tsolo near Mthatha.

Lieutenant Colonel Mzukisi Fatyela, Mthatha police spokesperson, confirmed the incident that took place at the Savoy Shopping Centre along Nelson Mandela Drive in Mthatha.

“Yes, a member of the VIP protection unit who was based in KwaZulu-Natal was involved in a shooting incident here last week.

“He was at the Savoy complex when he had a quarrel with a civilian man. According to the information we have, the man drew a firearm and hit the police officer with the butt of the gun.

“The police officer tried to run away and the man shot him in the leg three times. The police officer had three bullet wounds in the lower body.

“The police officer then took cover at a nearby tree and shot back. The civilian man was hit and was rushed to hospital by his friends.

"The police officer was also taken to hospital because he had a cut on his head and had been shot in the legs,” Fatyela said.

He said a police docket had been opened at the Madeira police station in Mthatha and that the matter was then referred to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid).

“The man who was involved in the shoot-out with the police officer later died in hospital,” said Fatyela, adding that he was not aware what the two had been fighting about and that an investigation was ongoing.

Fatyela said the incident took place at around 03:00.

Two independent sources told City Press that the wounded police officer discharged himself from hospital and insisted he be treated in his hotel room, fearing that his life might be in danger.

Tyrone Seale, acting spokesperson for Ramaphosa, said he was aware of the matter.

“I have heard something about an incident. I don’t have any detail. Unfortunately, the only thing I can do is to ask you to contact the police.

“Personally, I heard scant reference to an incident. There was no detail or whatever. I don’t even know where we were at the time it happened, whether we were still in the Eastern Cape or whether we had left.

"So, I really am not in a position to comment or add anything because I just don’t know enough. We immediately refer anything to do with the protection unit to the police for comment,” he said.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Katlego Mogale said the matter was being investigated by Ipid and therefore she could not comment.

Ipid spokesperson Moses Dlamini said the police member involved was Constable Bongumusa Dlamini of the combined action team unit in KwaZulu-Natal.

He said the firearms of both the deceased and the suspect, together with the spent cartridge cases, had been collected from the scene and would be sent to the ballistics unit.

“It is alleged that the deceased argued with the suspect [the police officer] at Von Sway Night Club and that the deceased assaulted the suspect on the head with his firearm.

"Other people intervened and the deceased stopped assaulting the suspect.

"The suspect left the night club and the deceased followed him and fired some shots at the suspect.

“The suspect returned fire and that’s where the deceased was injured. The deceased was taken to the hospital where he passed away.

"The suspect also sustained a gunshot wound on the right leg and a laceration on the head. The deceased’s cause of death was thoracic injuries. The investigation is currently under way,” said Ipid’s Dlamini.

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