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MANZINI - Two assassins shot a pair of traffic police officers dead in broad daylight, took their R4 assault rifle and drove towards Manzini city centre.

The assassination happened yesterday at around 12:30pm as the two traffic police officers were manning a roadblock along a residential route - Woodmaster Street, behind Grand Valley (GV) Complex. The shooting, which drew a large number of public transport workers, members of the public and police officers who were off duty, happened about an hour and a half before the police officers were to complete their shift. They were manning a roadblock along Woodmasters Street following that public transport vehicles use this residential route as a detour since there are construction works on Meintjies Street.


Meintjies Street is the route used by public service vehicles to either gain entry or exit the Manzini Bus Rank. Despite that public transport vehicles were instructed to use another route, some opted to use the Woodmasters Street which inconvenienced residents of Palm Beach and Woodmasters.
In a quest to ensure that the public transport vehicles adhered to the instruction of not using the residential route, the police officers were said to have been barricading the road in order to penalise those who were in defiance of the rules and regulations.

While in the scope of their duties, a witness who saw everything unfold, said a Honda Fit, beige (khaki) in colour, approached them (officers)  driving towards Central Distributor Road (Mavuso Public Road) and the officers stopped them. The witness, *Msimisi, said two occupants of the vehicle alighted from the Honda Fit and engaged the officers. Msimisi said as he drove closer, he saw the police officers walking towards their vehicle and lying on the ground.

At this instance, he said, one of the people who had alighted from the Honda Fit had a pistol aimed at them. He said the police officers lied on the ground about five metres from the road. As he saw this, Msimisi claimed to have informed an occupant of the vehicle he was driving in that the officers were seemingly pointed with a gun. This, he said, was dismissed by his passenger. However, seconds later, Msimisi claimed that loud gunshots were heard as the two people who were pointing the guns at the duo fled into their car. As this happened, Msimisi said he alighted from his vehicle and fled the scene as quickly as possible. This, he said, was to avert being targeted by the gunmen as he had seen them. Another witness, *Machawe said he froze as the gunmen fired shots and ended up reversing his vehicle into a parked car. His fear, he said, was that the gunmen were running towards him.


Like Msimisi, Machawe said he feared that they would shoot him as he had seen them. The pair claimed that the gunmen were not wearing any balaclavas or any form of item to conceal their faces. They claimed that the two traffic police officers were shot at close range, supposedly in their heads. The witnesses claimed that after engaging in the assassination of the police officers, the duo fled into their vehicle (Honda Fit) which was idling as its driver was still within it. They claimed that one of the suspects had dreadlocks while another was short, stout and dark. They claimed that the Honda Fit was then driven towards the Manzini city centre which is amass with vehicles of similar colour and also was busy as it was around noon.

Meanwhile, when these reporters arrived at the scene of the murders, it was awash with senior police officers from various of departments.
Some women who had witnessed the assassination were inconsolable, while members of the public were bemoaning that peace had become extinct in the country. The members of the public, who consisted of public service transport workers, did not apportion the blame to any party but would constantly be heard rhetorically asking why were police officers being killed. They made reference to one of the officers, who was lying face down and covered with blankets, while in full uniform and also wearing the lime and blue vests adorned by the Traffic Department.


Chief Police Information and Communications Officer Superintendent Phindile Vilakati confirmed the assassination of the two police officers. Vilakati further confirmed that after the shooting, the assassins took a police assault rifle. Vilakati appealed to the public to assist the police in apprehending the suspects, whom she said were suspected to be a trio. She said one of the suspects had dreadlocks while his accomplice was short and dark. She said the suspects were said to have driven towards the Manzini city centre after committing the murders. Vilakati appealed to the public to contact the Royal Eswatini Police Service (REPS) on their toll free number 999/9999.

Alternatively, she said the public could contact the Manzini Regional Commissioner, Assistant Commissioner Elvis Shabangu on his mobile number – 7606 4110 or Manzini Regional Crime Branch Officer (RCBO) Thabo Hlophe on 7606 8570. It is worth noting that following the spate of police killings, traffic officers have been working in groups with one of them carrying an R4 assault rifle. Also, police officers were offered bullet proof vests as part of enhancing their safety subsequent to the hike in the number of law safety agents who were being targeted and aimed at, with live rounds.


This is not an isolated incident. Recently, at New Village, a police officer was shot in the torso by an unknown gunman while engaging in his duties. This happened at about 7pm, a month ago. Before that, at Ngculwini, a police officer was assassinated in front of his family members and friends. Prior to that, an unknown gunman fired seven gunshots at a police house at Zakhele Police Camp. Two out of the seven bullets which were fired at the police house went through the window and lodged in a refrigerator inside the institutional house.

Leading to that was the killing of another male traffic police officer, who was based at Matsapha Police Station.  He was killed about 500 metres away from his duty station (Sigodvweni, which is along the Ndlunganye-Police College Public Road), by a daring gunman. The above incident happened hardly 48 hours after a female officer, who was based at Manzini Police Station, was shot dead while her colleague (male officer) survived, after he was shot in the chest. This incident happened at the Manzini Club Traffic Circle.

* Not real names

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