Tereasa Dias and Tom Zwane
3 minute read
20 Jul 2018
3:30 pm

Mpumalanga policewoman risks life to protect suspect from violent mob

Tereasa Dias and Tom Zwane

Fellow officers have hailed Sgt Jabulile Shongwe as a hero after she put her life on the line to protect a suspect she was arresting from a violent mob.

Police confiscated a fourth firearm from the house on Wednesday.

A crowd of more than 200 people had gathered outside 66-year-old Dirk Muller’s house on the corner of Sheba and Donga streets in Barberton while a suspect was being arrested by police on Tuesday afternoon, Lowvelder reports.

They suspected that a nyaope dealer was residing on the premises. Many of them were taxi drivers.

READ MORE: Mob justice claims life in Mpumalanga

Shongwe’s White River Flying Squad unit leader Capt Pieter Smit said he was astounded at her bravery and professionalism in the face of danger.

White River Flying Squad unit member Sgt Jabulile Shongwe.

The crowd attempted to enter the property and threw petrol bombs at the house but failed to hit it. Muller, the property owner, allegedly fired his shotgun at some taxis parked outside his house.

Smit told Lowvelder that he was called to the scene as it had been believed that it was a hostage situation. Four people were found in the house and placed in the back of a police van parked in the driveway.

“As Muller was about to be put into the van, we heard that he had more weapons in his house. So I went inside to get them before the crowd got them,” he said.

At this stage the police van drove off, leaving only Smit, Shongwe and another police officer with Muller in the driveway.

“As we were attempting to put Muller into the back of the police van, it drove away and the mob just swarmed us, they tore the clothes off Muller. Shongwe at one stage was pushed to the ground, but she got up and bravely kept protecting Muller,” said Smit.

People gathered outside the house again on Wednesday.

Eventually they caught up to the police van which had stopped for them about 40 metres away.

“I was really amazed at her bravery as she did not back down despite us being outnumbered,” Smit said.

Shongwe said she was merely doing her job. “I shielded the man until we could get him into the police van.” She said she suffered no injuries.

According to Smit, Muller was renting some Wendy houses at the back of his property to tenants. The crowd had earlier taken about 10 young men against their will and assaulted them until they pointed out the house. “We heard some community members had taken them as they had suspected they were selling nyaope and were responsible for their taxis being robbed of radios and other items.”

Three firearms were confiscated on Tuesday. On Wednesday another crowd gathered outside the house and police retrieved a fourth firearm.

Police confirmed that Muller and Maloza Amdia Shabani, a Tanzanian citizen, appeared in the Barberton Magistrate’s Court on Thursday. Muller faced charges related to firing a firearm, and Shabani faced various drug charges and is accused of being an illegal immigrant.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Leonard Hlathi, said people should report to the police when they suspect drugs are being sold at a house.

“They should not take the law into their hands.”

Muller was released on a warning and the Tanzanian was remanded in custody. The matter was postponed until September 4.

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