When you know the dead

It is not often that the dead I report on I know.

But the 30-year-old police constable who lay dead beneath the medic’s space blanket, last night I knew.

He was a communications officer and in the past I phoned him to check if I had missed any crimes in Hillbrow.

Journalists and police communications officers play a game.

We ask if there is any crime in the area, they tell us everything is quiet.

He died where he fell.

In police talk, he was shot in the upper body. From the blood that had pooled on the pavement, I suspect the bullet hit him in the back of the head, maybe the neck.

An ambush.

He didn’t have time to react, someone at the scene suggested.

His shoes, polished to a parade ground sheen, shone in the half light of twilight.

Perhaps he had children, I don’t know.

A woman escorted by police, was taken onto the cordoned off crime scene.

A detective lifted the space blanket and allowed her a final glimpse of the dead man’s face.

The worst day of her life, an image that will burden her until her dying day.

Crying hysterically, she had to be held up and led away.

There are no photographs with this post.

The police don’t like you snapping pics of their fallen. Wide eyed, they threaten with arrest, even violence.

The motive, the last night is not clear. The constable had left a flat on Bok street in Joubert Park.

He was walking with his partner, a reservist, back to their patrol car, when they were shot.

The reservist was seriously injured.

The shooter or shooters took the constable’s service pistol.

Perhaps that was motive, criminals killing cops for their guns.

Turn the corner and walk up Wolmarans street and block away is the scene of another cop killing.

About a month and half ago two policemen were shot when they stopped a vehicle.

One of the policemen died at the scene, the other later in hospital. Their firearms taken.

About Shaun Smillie

Journalist, with a love of bones, fossils and other things dug up. Fisherman and occasional beer maker.
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