Courtroom carnage: Cop lives up to chilling Facebook motto
As the 16 days of activism against gender violence begins a policeman's wife and her brother are gunned down in court
After the shooting stopped and as pools of blood snaked across the scuffed courtroom floor, Sergeant Phumlani Chiliza was found on his back still clinging to his gun.
His wife lay face down between well-worn wooden benches, blood matted in her hair.
Her brother lay against the wall in the gallery, his legs tucked beneath his body and bright-red blood encircling the hole in his white shirt.
In what was then still a failed effort to take his own life, the 36-year-old policeman turned the gun on himself.
The first policeman who burst into the room from an adjacent court found Chiliza still holding his weapon after the final salvo to end his marriage.
The KwaMashu cop, who later died in a Durban hospital, gunned down his wife and her brother in the public gallery of the Durban Regional Court on Monday.
Impeccable police sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said magistrate Sitembiso Maphumulo, who was hearing the day’s proceedings, had just left her seat and returned to her chambers when Chiliza produced his gun.
As a prosecutor and clerk took cover, Chiliza is alleged to have opened fire on his former lover and her brother.
The smoking gun was then pulled from his grasp.
It is understood that the then critically injured policeman was treated by Life Response 24/7 paramedics at the scene before being rushed by ambulance to a nearby hospital where he died Monday evening.
Now his colleagues will delve into the annals of his life in an attempt to establish why he crossed over to the other side of the law.
His Facebook paints a self-portrait of a dedicated family man and father who loved soccer. His mantra, posted on his profile, reads: “It’s either I fight until I die or win.”
Police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele said the pair had been at court for divorce proceedings.
“There had been court proceedings initiated between the woman and the policeman. The matter was stood down and immediately after the magistrate left he fired several shots toward his wife and her brother,” she said.
“He then turned the gun on himself and was critically injured.”
Minister of justice and correctional services Michael Masutha condemned the incident.
“I have instructed the department of justice to institute an official investigation on the incident.
“Information currently at our disposal suggests that this incident is complicated by the fact that the alleged suspect is a member of the South African Police Service whom the court security officials neither knew was an affected party in a case that was being heard nor had any reasonable grounds to suspect that he would be a perpetrator.”
He said that no effort would be spared in ensuring that courts were safe for those who used them.
Chiliza’s shooting spree comes as the country embarks on 16 days of activism against gender-based violence.