“This is not a country for criminals. We shall reclaim this space for our nation,” she said at the memorial service of three police officers in Kuils River. The officers were killed at the end of last month. “Those who are not interested in staying in this peaceful, wonderful country of ours can take leave.”
Constable Lungisa Depha, 36, was shot dead on Sunday, July 28 while recording details at the scene of a car crash in Mitchells Plain. Phiyega said he was arresting a suspected drunk driver at the time.
The same day, Sergeant Landile Yengo, 43, was shot in his Khayelitsha home while getting ready to go to work. He died on his way to hospital. The next day, Sergeant Bafundi Mdlalo, 34, was shot dead in his Mitchells Plain home. Seven police officers were killed in the province last month.
At the start of the church service, Phiyega and family members were led to a table in front with photos of the officers, surrounded by thick white candles and flower arrangements. Their widows, dressed in black, collapsed at the sight of the photos and were escorted, wailing, back to their seats.
One of the late officers’ young daughters, dressed in a frilly pink dress, sucked a lollipop and played on the floor, unaware of what was going on. Police colleagues and relatives in the large hall sang a mournful tune as Phiyega lit the candles and gazed into the flames for a moment.