'Young wife heard him dying over the radio': Bheki Cele visits slain cop's family
Police minister Bheki Cele looked worn down on Wednesday when he visited the family of 34-year-old Sgt Donovan Prins, the police officer who was gunned down in Lavender Hill, Cape Town, on Monday night.
A hostile silence filled the air in the community during the visit. Here, rampant gang violence has been ongoing since the weekend and the streets are largely empty, even on a sunny day.
When a convoy of police vans and armoured vehicles rolled in, residents emerged from their homes and gathered at the Prins family's house.
"Now they come," muttered one resident as Cele and an entourage of officers walked Prins's inconsolable wife Shaldene - who is also a SAPS officer - into the family home.
Some residents called for the army to be brought in.
SAPS head of chaplain services Capt Christopher Horn led a prayer for the Prins family and their police colleagues.
"I want to pray for my colleagues this morning. Don't lose hope. You have a calling upon your life to serve the country, to serve the community," said Horn.
Cele, who had removed his hat out of respect, addressed the room, sighing deeply before offering his condolences.
"The man's young wife had to listen to her husband die over the radio. She heard everything, all the bullets and talking," he said.
"You don't have the answers sometimes to these situations. It's difficult for all of us."
Cele said he had visited the scene where Prins was gunned down after suspects he and his partner were following opened fire on their patrol car.
He said he was concerned by the recent increase in violent crime in the province. "We do have a worry about the Western Cape area. I don't think it's the right time to be pointing fingers and finding blame.
"I met four mothers [from Lavender Hill] who were simply saying that that these gangsters are our brothers, they are our children, our husbands. They told me that if we don't work with the police, we are not going to fix the problem.
"We can't have a situation like this, where people literally live in fear," said Cele.
Prins's sister said she wants her brother's killers brought to justice. "I want the man who shot my brother to come forward. There's someone out there who did it, who is feeling like a hero. I want justice. My brother died a hero," she said.
With community members gathered at the scene, one man who wished to remain anonymous said the scourge of gangsterism had brought the community "to its knees".
"They don't respect you; they don't respect anything. They only kill," he said of gangsters in the area.
No arrests have been made but Cele assured the community that "the situation is progressing" and that police had already spoken to two suspects.
"The Western Cape police management wishes to express its sincere condolences to the family and colleagues of the member who died while protecting the community - and assure them that every endeavour will be made to apprehend the suspects so that they can be prosecuted with the full might of the law," said SAPS spokesperson Lt-Col Andrè Traut.