Durban - Slain Pinetown policeman, Detective Constable Ajith Krishanlal, and his partner Constable Jerome Ngoma, had called for assistance when they were ambushed by two men waiting for their accomplices in a getaway vehicle.
Details on how the policemen were set upon at a KFC in New Germany on Friday night are beginning to emerge as police search for the suspects.
On Sunday, mourners paid tribute to Krishanlal at the Clare Estate Crematorium, while more than 200 people gathered at the spot where he was killed, some laying flowers in his memory.
Ngoma is in a critical condition in hospital.
Provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Mmamonnye Ngobeni, has condemned the shooting and vowed that Krishanlal’s killers will be hunted down and brought to book.
She said the Durban organised crime unit (serious and violent crimes) was working around the clock to track down the suspects.
“If we kill our policemen and women, who will be left to protect society?” she asked. “I also appeal to anyone with information to please come forward and help us find Constable Krishanlal’s killers.”
CCTV footage showed the two policemen stood no chance against their heavily armed attackers, who were in a silver BMW.
Krishanlal, 45, was shot eight times. He was not wearing a bulletproof vest.
His partner, Ngoma, also sustained multiple gunshot wounds.
Krishanlal and Ngoma were patrolling near the KFC outlet in New Germany at 9pm on Friday when they stumbled upon the robbery in progress at the fast food outlet.
Two suspects had held up patrons at gunpoint and robbed them of cash, cellphones and jewellery.
Police sources said the two policemen had parked their vehicle outside the KFC and called for back-up.
“They saw the patrons lying on the floor and immediately knew something was going on. Krishanlal jumped out of the vehicle, but did not realise two more suspects were seated in a getaway car behind them. The suspects opened fire, hitting Krishanlal eight times. Ngoma was also shot,” the source said.
During the shoot-out, the police back-up van arrived, and one of the suspects was shot dead. The other three escaped.
Krishanlal died on his way to hospital.
Family priest, Satish Maharaj, said Krishanlal’s wife, Simmie, and their two children, Viren, 19, and Talia, 16, were battling to come to terms with his death.
“The family are devastated. They will need counselling to help them through this ordeal,” he said. “It is a very difficult time for them.”
Colleagues of the policemen, who were at the scene of the crime on Friday night, claimed yesterday that the captain, who had shot dead the suspected robber, had been harassed by investigators from the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid).
The captain had shot dead one of the robbers, who was found with four cellphones in his possession, a police source said.
“He was traumatised, but they [the Ipid investigators] insisted on taking a statement from him. They also walked all over the crime scene and failed to pick up bullet shells,” said the source.
But Ipid spokesman Moses Dlamini dismissed the allegations as mischief making by emotional policeman, claiming they had not even been at the scene.
“This is misinformation. In fact, the policeman who started this has been identified. He admitted he was not at the scene and apologised for his irresponsible behaviour.”
Dlamini added: “But, a full investigation is under way. We are convinced this is just a move to discredit Ipid.”
At a memorial service in New Germany yesterday, DA MP, Dianne Kohler Barnard, said she would call for a full investigation into allegations that investigators from Ipid contaminated the crime scene.
She said any policemen had the right “to take out” suspects if their lives, or those of the community, were at stake.”
Kohler Barnard appealed to Police Minister Nathi Mthetwa not to hide the reality about crime.
“The minister tries to convince me crime is coming down. He must stop hiding the reality.”