Members of the Crawford community watched in horror as an unknown man shot and killed an armed response officer who was on patrol in the area.
On Saturday March 18, 44-year-old Siyabulela Aubrey Sipunzi, was patrolling the Rockerby Road area, when he was approached by an unknown man who started wrestling with the armed response office.
The man managed to get hold of Mr Sipunzi’s firearm, injuring him with the first shot and then, in execution style, putting a bullet through the head of Mr Sipunzi, killing the officer on the spot.
Lansdowne police spokesperson, Sergeant Nkululeko Mnyaka, confirmed that detectives were on the hunt for the suspect, who was seen fleeing in a Toyota Tazz.
“According to the bystander, they saw a full-bearded male wrestling with the deceased over the firearm and the suspect got it and shot him (deceased) in the head and fled in a Toyota Tazz, registration unknown and also direction unknown,” Sergeant Mnyaka said.
Mr Sipunzi worked for Rondebosch East-based Sniper Security, whose staff gathered at the scene of the shooting on Friday March 24, to pay their respects to their colleague. Flowers were laid and a prayer said.
Sniper Security Solutions managing director, Ridwaan Mathews, explained that it had been a difficult day for everybody at Sniper Security, because the incident had been unprecedented in the company’s 20 years of existence.
“The gunman, in a cold and callous manner, executed him (Mr Sipunzi) by shooting him in the head at close range, in full view of many witnesses in the street,” he said.
During the ceremony, Mr Sipunzi’s family made one last stop at the scene, with the body of the deceased, for closure.
“It has had a massive impact on the company, as we cannot come to terms with the death of our colleague, friend and family member. There are just too many unanswered questions. Our staff are currently receiving trauma counselling,” Mr Mathews said.
In response to Mr Mathews’ claims that Lansdowne police were dragging their feet in the investigation and they had been “begging Lansdowne police to provide us with a sketch artist, as we have witnesses that have come forward”, Lansdowne Community Police Forum (CPF) chairman, Rafiq Foflonker, pointed out that the investigation was still in its early stages.
“I am fully aware of the incident, but I think the claims are just a bit pre-mature. We must allow the investigation to take its course,” he said.
At this stage, he said, the CPF was not yet certain of the motive behind the murder, and said the community need not be “overly alarmed”.
“I don’t think it’s an epidemic in our community. This was one of those isolated incidents that happens and the community should not be too overly alarmed,” he added.
Since the incident, Sniper Security have entered into negotiations with an international company to have cameras installed in the vehicles and on the bulletproof vests of their armed response officers.
“This will have a massive impact on protecting our staff, as our control room will have a live visual of our armed response officers 24/7.
“It will also be critical in the event of an incident where we require critical footage of the actual scene seconds before and after an incident.”
Mr Mathews said they have also taken steps to ensure their officers are no longer soft targets for criminals going after their firearms. “We have changed the way we carry our firearms and implemented a firearm combat leg holster, which makes it more difficult for someone to attack and remove firearms from our officers,” he said.
None of this, however, can change what happened to Mr Sipunzi who leaves behind a wife and four children.
“All security officers are faced with a common problem. We get threatened by suspects and are constantly in the line of fire. We have to deal with a considerable amount of emotional trauma on a daily basis and on many occasions, we have to select which cases we require trauma counselling for,” he added.
Sergeant Mnyaka confirmed that Lansdowne police were investigating a case of murder and that no arrests had yet been made.
The shooter is believed to be fair of complexion, with a well-groomed beard, wearing a black peak cap, a white round-neck T-shirt and shorts. Anyone with information can contact Lansdowne detectives at 021 700 9000 or 082 576 2804. All information will be treated as confidential.