1. July 12, 2014 Weekend Witness NEWS 3
Hijack starts chain of death
Two police officers involved in hunt for attackers die after fatal hijack
MLONDI RADEBE, NADEEM
NYKER, JEFF WICKS and
gone awry in Northdale, Pietermaritz
burg, on Thursday night unleashed a
bloody chain of interwoven events that
saw two police officers dying just hours
after the shooting.
In the wake of the carjacking, a police
net was thrown out to close off any
escape route for the gunmen, with four
officers dispatched to a highway over
pass in Cato Ridge.
While three of the police officers
stood outside the car on the lookout for
the hijackers, the
fourth took his own
life — his blood
stained pistol falling
to his side.
Hours later, a sec
ond police officer
from the group was
killed in a horror ac
cident on the R33,
when the police car
she was travelling in
left the road.
The hijacking that
string of deaths is
understood to have
happened late on
into his Newholmes Way home.
Accosted by three gunmen, well
known Pietermaritzburg businessman
Imdad Bhatti was dragged from his car
and shot twice before his attackers
raced away in his BMW. He was rushed
to Northdale Hospital where he later
died — and his car was found aban
doned less than five kilometres away
from his home.
Bhatti was shot dead in front of his
wife and children as he returned from
mosque to his home in Newholmes
Way, with his sixyearold son.
It is alleged that Bhatti and his son
were in the car when three men con
fronted them. His wife, Nida, was com
ing to open the gate. It’s believed that
he threw the car keys over the gate to
her, causing the men to shoot repeated
ly towards Nida, but somehow miss her.
They then shot him and sped away. The
men managed to escape with the car,
a white BMW 3 series.
A neighbour, Anusha Pillay, said she
was watching a movie in her bedroom
with her husband when she heard a
scream followed by repeated gunshots.
“We jumped up to the window to see
what was happening. His children were
“We all ran out to try help him, as
he was on the driveway. My husband
and my son rushed him to the hospital
… but on the way he died,” said Pillay.
She added that Bhatti’s young chil
dren were holding their father’s wound
ed body as he lay on the floor. “They
were shouting, ‘Daddy, daddy”, while
one was holding his leg and the other
holding his hand. We were so trauma
tised and couldn’t sleep the whole
Bhatti was the owner of Central
Hardware as well as the founder of a
mall at Bhamshela in Appelsbosch.
Later on Thursday night his car was
Police spokesperson Captain Thu
lani Zwane said no arrests had been
a case of murder and hijacking.
dead during a
front of his
Snethemba Noxolo Sithole.
Police investigating the scene of the accident that led to the death of
one of the Pietermaritzburg K9 Search and Rescue Unit along the R33
PHOTO: THOBANI NGQULUNGA
Cop killed driving ‘unroadworthy’ car
MLONDI RADEBE and
THE “dilapidated, unroadworthy”
police car that a young policewoman
day morning had reportedly been
“boarded” because it was a wreck.
Police officers were apparently in
structed to take it out of the police ga
rage where it was awaiting repairs on
Thursday because of a crisis with their
vehicles, which insiders say had left
them with just one operational car.
Snethemba Noxolo Sithole (25), a
member of the K9 Search and Rescue
Unit, died as she was nearing the end
of a busy night shift, when the bakkie
she was driving crashed on the R33
near Sbu Ndebele’s farm. The car,
which reportedly had just one head
light and was described as “very, very
old”, plunged into a ditch near the
Sources yesterday raised questions
about whether the policewoman
should have been driving the car at all.
One source told Weekend Witness
that the car was believed to not have
been roadworthy. “The inside of the
tyres are very smooth, showing that
the wheel alignment was out. The
This could have resulted in her losing
control of the car.”
Another said it was missing a head
light and needed “extensive work”.
saying only that the cause of the acci
dent was being investigated.
“For this type of police work, you
need a very roadworthy car, which has
been fully examined and is ready for
any eventuality,” said one source.
It was a sombre moment for police
on scene as they cleared the wreckage
in which Sithole had been entrapped
and firemen used the jaws of life to re
move her body.
She was described by some of the
members who knew her as a young
woman who was passionate about her
police job and worked tirelessly to
serve her community.
One officer said this was not only
a huge loss to her family but was also
huge blow to the unit because she still
Greytown and Pietermaritzburg while
being trained in the K9 unit, said
Sithole’s fiancé, Siya Dlamini, said
she was no longer happy doing the
“She wanted to be placed back at
the Greytown station without having
to travel,” said Dlamini.
He added that he had paid lobola
Department of Transport spokes
person Zinhle Mngomezulu said the
cause of the accident was being inves
Ngobeni sent her condolences to Sit
hole’s family and colleagues. “It is al
ways not easy to accept the loss of one
of our own, however we have to accept
[it],” she said.
Weekend Witness has been investigat
ing the shortage of cars in the Pieter
maritzburg K9 unit for the past two
The unit’s highperformance cars,
like the VW Golfs and Ford Focus STs,
are stuck in the police garage awaiting
repairs, and police are left with bakkies
Staff in the unit are now reportedly
taking long leave because of the short
age of cars.
“We are using the cars on a daily ba
a car, you won’t be able to work,” said
“We just come and sit in the office
as we don’t have cars. There is nothing
we can do if anything happens in our
area. We won’t be able to respond,”
Police spokesperson Captain Thulani
Zwane said in a reply to queries that
the SAPS garage in Pietermaritzburg is
attending to the matter.
“It was established that some of the
vehicles that are in the garage have en
is attending to the matter and the driv
ers are urged to take good care of these
cars and they should check the car be
fore use,” said Zwane.