The Bloemfontein community continues to mourn the death of Hawks member, Qeya “Tshabi” Tshabalala, who was shot and murdered last week.
Police Commissioner in the Free State, Moeketsi Sempe, said Tshabalala was a humble servant of the police force and people he served. He was a God-fearing man whose life centered around his work and church.
While Sempe admitted that he had never worked closely with Tshabalala, he said from a distance one could always see his dedication to his job as well as his diligent and disciplined work ethic. “He was someone who would never put his own prosaic and banal interests above the interests of the people and that of the organisation. A fearless investigator who would always place his life in danger in pursuit of criminal… This organisation and his colleagues, including the family, have indeed lost a humble servant of the people,” Sempe said.
Also remembering the deceased was Mpho Mokhoali, who used to attend the same church as Tshabalala (Dutch Reformed Church in Phahameng) and who said she remembered Tshabalala as a man who was constantly in a good mood and she did not recall ever seeing him in a negative or bad mood.
She revealed that Tshabalala was an active member of the church choir, the church support group and the men’s prayer band. “Ntate Tshabalala was a wonderful father to his children (Mbali and Hloni) and, moreover, a father figure to all the children at church. He carried with him a peaceful aura that could be felt by all whenever he was around the congregation. Every time they had an event, he would avail himself and provide the necessary support,” Mokhoali told Courant.
Lucia Motlung remembered Tshabalala as a colleague of her own father who was also a policeman who died in 2008 while on duty. Motlung remembered Tshabalala from her childhood and reiterated his role as a father in the community. She said he would bring sweets for children living at Kavalierhof (a flat where police officials reside in Willows) most days when he came back from work. “He was very loving and he would always crack a joke or two whenever I met him. He would greet us by always saying ‘Happy Happy’. I think everyone who knew him knows that and will remember him by that too,” Motloung said.
A memorial service was held for Tshabalala on Thursday, 31 March, at the Phahameng NG Church at 10:30, while his funeral service will take place on Saturday, 02 June, at the Thabanatsoana Village in Qwaqwa at 08:00.
Meanwhile, police spokesperson, Thandi Mbambo, confirmed that one suspect, Sprinkaan Maema, has appeared at the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday, 29 May after he was apprehended on Friday morning, following Qeya’s killing on Thursday evening last week.
Tshabalala was shot dead on Thursday, 25 May around 20:45. He had been attacked by three unknown suspects while attending to a complaint in Rocklands. The suspects allegedly entered the house where he was and started firing shots at him. It was also confirmed that he had wounded one suspect in the shootout.
The assailants took off with his state vehicle, phone and service pistol. The vehicle was later found abandoned at Dewetsdorp and the suspect was arrested between Dewetsdorp and Wepener, a few kilometres from where the stolen vehicle was found.
Free State Hawks spokesperson, S’fiso Nyakane, earlier said that Tshabalala had also wounded one suspect in the process. Mbambo said that police are working with the Hawks in Bloemfontein and a Provincial Task Team as they are continuing to be on the lookout for the other two suspects who were implicated in Tshabalala’s murder.